Two Piece Reclining Figure No.3
1961, cast date unknown
1585 x 2800 x 1370 mm
Inscribed ‘Moore 0/7’ and stamped with foundry mark ‘H. NOACK BERLIN’ on side of legs
Presented by the artist 1978
Artist’s copy aside from an edition of 7
(?another cast reproduced pl.217).
Technique and condition
When the plaster had fully hardened a mould was taken from it and used to make a hollow cast in bronze. Close examination of the surface reveals the presence of casting investment in crevices in the surface of the sculpture, which suggest that the sculpture was cast using the lost wax method (fig.3). This would have required the foundry to cast the bronze in multiple sections before welding them together to form the whole. The welds were carefully filed down and textured with punch tools to match the height and appearance of the original surface, a process known as ‘chasing’. An example of this can be seen on the figure’s right shoulder. The cast surface of the bronze has otherwise been retained to preserve the detail of Moore’s heavily textured original plaster.
Once the bronze had been cleaned and chased it would have been chemically patinated to colour the surface and help disguise welds and repairs. The patina solution would have been brushed and stippled onto the surface of the bronze, causing a reaction with the metal that produced coloured compounds. In this case the sculpture appears to have been originally patinated dark brown. However, this colour has been altered by exposure to the weather, as demonstrated by pale green areas appearing on its raised surfaces.
How to citeLyndsey Morgan, 'Technique and Condition', March 2013, in Alice Correia, ‘Two Piece Reclining Figure No.3 1961, cast date unknown by Henry Moore OM, CH’, catalogue entry, July 2012, in Henry Moore: Sculptural Process and Public Identity, Tate Research Publication, 2015, https://www
Although the side of the sculpture from which the figure’s arm is visible is usually presented and photographed as its front, Moore consciously sculpted the forms to be experienced in the round. 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 crevices and hollows point to the importance of negative space as something that unites as well as divides the various elements of the sculpture. For example, from the rear the arrangement of forms is perhaps more easily recognisable as a single figure, in that the almost horizontal protrusion from the top of the legs appears to bridge or lock the gap between this section and the upper body (fig.5). It is also from this angle that the figure may be identified as female, for the left shoulder may also represent a breast at the same height as the protrusion from the sternum.
From plaster to bronze
The maquette for Two Piece Reclining Figure No.3 (fig.6) was made in 1961. Some of the other maquettes for two-piece sculptures made around this time, such as Two Piece Reclining Figure: Maquette No.1 1960 (fig.7), were cast in bronze at their original size, but not all of them were scaled up into full size sculptures. Moore explained:
Sources and development
The critics Phillip James and Donald Hall have both proposed that, in addition to French impressionist paintings and Moore’s sculptures from the 1930s, the forms of Two Piece Reclining Figure No.3 may have been informed by the shape of Adel Crag, a large outcrop of rock on Adel Moor, near Leeds (fig.13). Hall described this natural formation as comprising ‘two huge rocks ... one is narrow and vertical; the other is split, enormous and jagged’, and suggested that it was difficult to look at Adel Crag without seeing a Henry Moore sculpture.20 Moore had visited the rock formation as a school child and claimed that the experience left an indelible mark on his appreciation of natural forms.21
Sylvester’s account privileges the idea that the two parts of Moore’s Two Piece Reclining Figure No.3 interlock, evoking the mechanics of sexual intercourse. Nonetheless, he also acknowledged that ‘at the same time there is a contrary suggestion of a mother-and-child relationship’ as seen in the earlier Two Forms 1934 (fig.16).30 Moore had suggested that this earlier wooden sculpture could be ‘thought of as a Mother and Child ... The bigger form has a kind of pelvis shape in it and the smaller form is like the big head of a child’.31 With this in mind, the two horizontally protruding elements in Two Piece Reclining Figure No.3 could be regarded as a complementary pair rather than sections of a single figure. Indeed, as John Russell remarked in 1973, the division of the sculpture into two embodies ‘the idea of irreparable separation and loss which is fundamental to all human experience; and art’s highest function is fulfilled when we look again and realise that the two pieces have an intense and living relationship, as separate entities, which would be dulled and rendered inert if they were to be joined together’.32
The Henry Moore Gift
How to cite
Alice Correia, ‘Two Piece Reclining Figure No.3 1961, cast date unknown by Henry Moore OM, CH’, catalogue entry, July 2012, in Henry Moore: Sculptural Process and Public Identity, Tate Research Publication, 2015, https://www