Reclining Figure: Bunched
1961, cast 1961–2
Bronze on a Hoptonwood limestone base
130 x 166 x 93 mm
Presented by Gustav and Elly Kahnweiler 1974, accessioned 1994
Number 9 in an edition of 9 plus 1 artist’s copy
Technique and condition
The surface has been artificially patinated, which means that chemical solutions were applied to the surface that reacted with the bronze to produce coloured compounds. First, a layer of opaque dark brown patina was applied, probably using a solution of potassium polysulphide (known in foundries as ‘liver of sulphur’). This was then rubbed back on the high points with a light abrasive, exposing the original colour of the cast bronze. A second, transparent and lighter brown layer of patina, which is often achieved using a more dilute solution of the same chemical, was then applied across the surface. The bronze was finally coated in a layer of protective wax.
How to citeLyndsey Morgan, 'Technique and Condition', March 2011, in Alice Correia, ‘Reclining Figure: Bunched 1961, cast 1961–2 by Henry Moore OM, CH’, catalogue entry, April 2013, in Henry Moore: Sculptural Process and Public Identity, Tate Research Publication, 2015, https://www
Making Reclining Figure: Bunched
In 1960 Moore stated, ‘I make most of my sculptures direct in plaster – if they are going to be in bronze’.1 A plaster maquette for Reclining Figure: Bunched (fig.4) in the collection of the Henry Moore Foundation testifies to the working method described by Moore, but the surfaces of the bronze version suggest that this plaster may have been created from a maquette made of wax. The smooth surface texture of the torso could have been achieved by dipping wax into hot water, or by melting it with a heated spatula. The sharp edges on the rear of the sculpture, in particular on the calves and back, also look as though they were made by cutting into wax (fig.5). The plaster maquette would have been made by casting the wax version in plaster so as to create an exact replica of the design. Plaster is a more durable material and this second maquette would have been the one used to create a mould from which the bronze cast could be made. The plaster maquette was also used when the sculpture was enlarged in marble and bronze; its surfaces are marked in pencil with a number of ‘x’ shapes indicating that it was used as the template for a scaled-up version.
When it was finished Moore sent the plaster maquette to the R. Fiorini & J. Carney Foundry in London to be cast in bronze. At the foundry the sculpture was cast using the lost wax technique, which involved making a mould into which molten wax was poured. Once the wax had hardened it could be released from the mould, forming an exact replica of the sculpture. It was at this point that Moore’s signature and the edition number were inscribed into the feet of the figure. The wax model would then be encased in a hard refractory material, placed in a kiln and heated until it melted. Channels within the casing would allow the wax to drain away and, once empty, the cavity was filled with molten bronze. Once the bronze had hardened its casing was removed, revealing the cast sculpture. Small tool marks on the surface of the bronze indicate where casting seams were filed down. Reclining Figure: Bunched was cast in an edition of nine plus one artist’s cast, all of which were made between October 1961 and June 1962. As it is the ninth cast of the edition, Tate’s sculpture was probably one of the last to be produced.
Moore and the reclining figure
The origins of Moore’s fascination with the subject of the reclining figure cannot be attributed to a single definitive source. For example, in the catalogue to Moore’s 1968 exhibition at the Tate Gallery, images of a reclining Chacmool, a rain spirit of the ancient Toltec-Mayan culture, were reproduced alongside Michelangelo’s carvings of allegorical figures in the Medici Chapel in Florence under the title ‘comparative material’. While the author of the catalogue, the critic David Sylvester, suggested that Michelangelo’s work had a greater bearing on Moore’s more naturalistic reclining figures from the late 1920s and early 1930s, he also argued that Moore’s more abstract sculptures evoked ‘poses which are the perogative of the Mediterranean tradition’.5 By way of an example, Sylvester noted that Reclining Figure: Bunched had ‘a remarkable resemblance to the stricken St Paul in the Pauline Chapel fresco of the Conversion’ (fig.7).6 It is possible that Sylvester not only saw similarities in the poses of the two figures, but also in their taut, twisting musculature and sense of compressed energy.
The Kahnweiler Gift
How to cite
Alice Correia, ‘Reclining Figure: Bunched 1961, cast 1961–2 by Henry Moore OM, CH’, catalogue entry, April 2013, in Henry Moore: Sculptural Process and Public Identity, Tate Research Publication, 2015, https://www