Two Piece Reclining Figure No.2
1960, cast 1961–2
1250 x 2900 x 1375 mm
Inscribed ‘Moore 3/7’ and ‘Guss H Noack Berlin’ on torso
Number 3 in an edition of 7 plus 1 artist’s copy
Technique and condition
The sculpture is fixed to a rectangular wooden base, the visible surfaces of which have been covered with copper. Two strips of copper sheet run the length of the base and are joined along its centre. The copper has also been chemically patinated and has a dark brown finish (fig.2). In addition, texture has been added to the copper using a punch tool, creating numerous rows of small indentations in its surface. The figure’s torso is attached to the base with two bolts fixed from underneath, whereas the lower body is attached with three bolts.
How to citeLyndsey Morgan, 'Technique and Condition', March 2013, in Alice Correia, ‘Two Piece Reclining Figure No.2 1960, cast 1961–2 by Henry Moore OM, CH’, catalogue entry, July 2013, in Henry Moore: Sculptural Process and Public Identity, Tate Research Publication, 2015, https://www
When seen in the round, however, the identification of singular figurative forms is brought into question. From the other side of this part of the sculpture a series of forms project away from the central mass and appear to suggest an alternative ‘front’ view (fig.2). Here the shoulders extend outwards and curve around the central hole like schematic arms, one of which stretches to the base into a block-like form reminiscent of a fist.
Indeed, the need to make imaginative leaps in order to establish a coherent image of the body appears to have shaped a number of Moore’s formal decisions. The gap separating the two parts of this sculpture and the use of arches and hollows point to the importance of negative space as something that unites as well as divides the various elements of the sculpture (fig.4). This is particularly emphasised when moving around it. For instance the two sections can be seen to overlap from certain angles, seemingly closing the gap between them (fig.5). When this occurs, the hole in the upper body and the arched space between the legs suggest new, interactive relationships between individual elements.
From plaster to bronze
Moore’s assistants would have completed most of the preliminary work for Two Piece Reclining Figure No.2, including applying successive layers of plaster to the armature and scrim until only a short section of each armature rod was exposed (fig.8). The armature did not only serve a structural purpose; the end of each rod corresponded to a point on the surface of the sculpture as measured and multiplied from the maquette. Moore explained that ‘once they [the assistants] have brought the work within an inch or so of the measurements I intend it to be, I take it over, and then it becomes a thing I’m working on as it would if I had brought it to that stage myself’.7
The surface texture of the sculpture illustrates how Moore exploited the material qualities of plaster to create distinct surface effects. Some areas of the sculpture have been given a smooth finish by applying wet plaster with a spatula, while deep grooves and parallel striations have been made in other surfaces (fig.9). These marks would likely have been made with sharp tools when the plaster had partially dried. When it was completely dry the surface could have been filed down to create smaller, finer grooves.
Sources and development
They were done partly to concentrate on the distances between forms – but also to consider the shape of the spaces between forms.
In doing these Reclining Figure sculptures, (No.1 in 1959 and No.2 in 1960), it came naturally and without any conscious decision, that I made them in two separate pieces – the head-and-body end – and the leg-end.
In both sculptures I realised that I was simplifying the essential elements of my reclining figure theme ... In many of my reclining figures the head-and-neck part of the sculpture, sometimes the torso part too, is upright, giving contrast to the horizontal direction of the whole sculpture. Also in my reclining figures, I have often made a sort of looming leg – the top leg in the sculpture projecting over the lower leg, which gives a sense of thrust and power – as a large branch of a tree might move outwards from the main trunk – or as a seaside cliff might overhang from below, if you are on the beach.
A great asset of sculpture in the round, (as against relief sculpture or painting), is its possibility of an infinite number of different views, giving, in changing lights, a never ending interest and surprise.
The two separated forms produce a greater variety of views from all aspects – for as you walk round the sculpture one form gets in front of the other, in ways that cannot be anticipated, resulting in many unexpected, unforeseen views. In that sense, I think these sculptures are more fully in the round than any previous work of mine.
Being in two pieces the work separates itself from seeming to be only a representation of a reclining figure.
Both these sculptures are a mixture, an amalgamation of the human body with rock-forms and with landscape, and so like a metaphor in poetry giving to each element a new aspect, and perhaps a new meaning.17
In addition to the multi-part sculptures of the 1930s, formal affinities may be identified between Two Piece Reclining Figure No.2 and Moore’s small sculpture Composition 1931 (fig.13). The back of the head and torso of the bronze sculpture (fig.2) bears a strong resemblance to the earlier work, which was carved from Cumberland alabaster. Although Composition is less than forty centimetres tall, the proportions of its rounded shoulders and the space formed between the body and the large arm stretching across it relate closely to this view of Two Piece Reclining Figure No.2.
Moore’s comment regarding Monet’s painting was recorded in 1968 but had probably been shared with other critics at an earlier date. Thompson referred to the paintings of Étretat by Courbet, Monet and Renoir in his 1965 essay on Moore’s use of landscape forms. In the same year the art historian Herbert Read remarked that from certain angles the leg section has ‘a distinct resemblance to the cliffs at Étretat so often painted by Courbet and other French artists. The torso is pierced by a cave-like hole, and adds to the cliff-life appearance’.27 But while Read, like Moore, noted similarities between these impressionist paintings and the shape of the arched leg, few critics commented on the similarities between the way these works of art evoke the texture of rock. The dappled lines and dashes of colour in Monet’s painting may be said to find sculptural equivalents in the horizontal striations and gouged and mottled surfaces of Moore’s bronze.
For the critic Peter Fuller, Moore’s elision of the human (mainly female) body with landscape was not unique, but was part of a long-standing English Romantic tradition. Romanticism was an early nineteenth-century literary and artistic movement that had ‘a new intuition for the primal power of the wild landscape, the spiritual correspondence between Man and Nature, and the aesthetic principles of “organic” form’.31 To support his claim Fuller cited the Victorian art historian John Ruskin, who, in championing earlier Romantic artists such as J.M.W. Turner, saw mountain peaks as ‘heaving bosoms and exulting limbs, with clouds drifting like hair from their bright foreheads’.32
Moore and classicism
Acquisition by Tate
For me, the only thing in this tremendous exhibition that approaches the magnitude of Divided Form 2, is Divided Form I.50
I should like to take this opportunity of expressing my own pleasure at the prospect of having Divided Form 2 in the Tate. My pleasure is greater in that I felt, when we last spoke on the telephone, that this, of all your recent works, was the one which you thought would represent you best.51
How to cite
Alice Correia, ‘Two Piece Reclining Figure No.2 1960, cast 1961–2 by Henry Moore OM, CH’, catalogue entry, July 2013, in Henry Moore: Sculptural Process and Public Identity, Tate Research Publication, 2015, https://www