Bronze on a bronze base
2219 x 1251 x 498 mm
Inscribed ‘Moore 0/6’ and ‘H.NOACK BERLIN’
Presented by the artist 1978
Artist’s copy aside from edition of 6
Technique and condition
As this sculpture is a relief, numerous marks providing valuable insights into the casting process remain visible on its rear side. For instance, the weld seams have not been filed down on this side and show that the sculpture was cast in four large sections that were welded together (fig.2). Residues of dark sand can also be seen, indicating that the bronze was made using the sand casting technique, which involves burying a model in sand to create a mould from which the bronze can be cast. This technique is quicker and less labour intensive than lost wax casting but is generally less suitable for reproducing very intricate shapes or surface details. Since the bronze has to be cast in a single pour, the maximum size of any one piece of bronze is dependent on the crucible size that the foundry uses. This means that it is often more practical and carries less risk to fabricate larger bronzes from a number of parts. The raised crackle pattern on the rear surface shows where the molten bronze ran into cracks in the mould. All evidence of faults and welds would have been removed from the front of the relief by means of a process known as ‘chasing’. This would have required such areas to be abraded and textured with punch tools to integrate them with the surrounding surface. Aside from being cleaned and chemically patinated, the bronze has received no further modifications and retains the surface details of Moore’s original plaster.
Relief No.1 is fixed to a flat, rectangular bronze base by threaded bolts. These bolts pass from the underside of the base through flanges welded at the bottom of the rear side of the sculpture. The artist’s signature and edition number have been inscribed towards the lower right-hand side of the sculpture (fig.4). The foundry mark ‘H.NOACK BERLIN’ has been stamped between the signature and the sculpture’s lower edge (fig.5).
How to citeLyndsey Morgan, 'Technique and Condition', March 2013, in Alice Correia, ‘Relief No.1 1959 by Henry Moore OM, CH’, catalogue entry, April 2013, in Henry Moore: Sculptural Process and Public Identity, Tate Research Publication, 2015, https://www
The neck and head of the figure are denoted by a vertical, semi-cylindrical shaft with a domed top, which tapers down into a rounded, almost horizontal shelf representing the shoulders (fig.1). When seen from the front the shoulders slope slightly upwards from left to right, where a rounded swelling may outline the top of an upper arm. Below the shoulders, occupying the position of the abdomen, is a more angular protrusion made up of sharper, irregular shaped surfaces and a thin disc-like appendage that juts out from the surface at a right angle (fig.2).
Although the hips and legs of the figure are not anatomically accurate, they are the most recognisably human features of the sculpture and take the form of rounded swellings that lead down to thick semi-cylindrical thighs, which terminate abruptly at the base (fig.3). The two legs are separated by a wide, arched recessed space, the depth of which is accentuated by a series of parallel lines that fan outwards from the cavity (fig.4).
From clay to plaster to bronze
Once Moore was satisfied with the design of his maquette it was scaled up to a full-size plaster version (fig.6). The enlargement process was probably carried out in the White Studio at Hoglands by Moore’s studio assistants, who in 1959 included Geoffrey Harris and Phillip King. He was able to allocate the bulk of the enlargement work to others because, as curator Julie Summers has noted, it was ‘a scientific rather than artistic process’.2 Using the small maquettte as a guide, an armature was constructed from wood or chicken wire over which successive layers of plaster were built up. According to James Copper, Sculpture Conservator at The Henry Moore Foundation, it is likely that this plaster sculpture was created lying flat on the ground before being lifted into its vertical position.3 A piece of newspaper attached to the rear of the sculpture is dated 16 April 1959, and may indicate when work on the plaster enlargement commenced (fig.7). Once the full-size plaster version was near completion Moore would have taken over to texture the surface. A second standing relief was made in plaster around the same time, but this was not cast in bronze because Moore was not sufficiently pleased with the arrangement of the forms.4
Sources and development
T02278), his photographs of embedded and fragmented bodies may also have influenced the figurative forms of Relief No.1 and his other major relief sculpture from the period, Reclining Figure 1956–60 (fig.12). In this large elm sculpture the figure adopts the pose of a reclining figure, but is orientated vertically so that it appears to be standing with bent knees against a flat wall, from which she appears to have emerged. Although this figure has been carved in high relief, and possesses more recognisably human features, the orientation of the figure and the way in which it protrudes out of the rear plane bears a resemblance to Relief No.1.
In 1965 the critic Herbert Read suggested that ‘the torso has been modified into a sinister mask’, whereby the middle and lower sections of the sculpture may be read as the long, gaunt face of an elderly man (fig.15).13 According to this interpretation the shoulders double as a furrowed brow above eyes formed by the rounded bulges at the top of the central protrusion, while the projecting disk can be seen to form a large nose with pronounced nostrils. The left hip can then be understood as a cheekbone, and the legs as swollen cheeks surrounding an open mouth.
The Henry Moore Gift
How to cite
Alice Correia, ‘Relief No.1 1959 by Henry Moore OM, CH’, catalogue entry, April 2013, in Henry Moore: Sculptural Process and Public Identity, Tate Research Publication, 2015, https://www