1957–8, cast date unknown
1441 x 791 x 921 mm
Inscribed ‘Moore’ on top of base.
Presented by the artist 1978
Artist’s copy aside from edition of 8
Technique and condition
Once it was finished the plaster was sent to the Noack Foundry in West Berlin to be cast in bronze. It was common practice for the foundry to cut plasters of this size into sections so that smaller, more straightforward moulds could be created. Casting a sculpture in sections also allowed the foundry to use a smaller crucible, which made the pouring of molten bronze into the moulds easier to control, and reduced the risk of faults and imperfections in the resulting casts. Residual traces of casting investment are visible in crevices in the bronze, suggesting that the sculpture was cast using the traditional lost wax process (fig.3).
After they were cast the individual sections would have been welded together to form the sculpture. Any weld lines would be carefully filed down and textured with punches to integrate them with the surrounding surface. This process is called ‘chasing’ and is also used to disguise repairs to the bronze, such as the square outline in the cleft of the buttocks (fig.4). The base was cast separately and fixed to the sculpture using bolts attached from the underside. Although it has not been possible to examine the underside of the base, the inspection of bases of similar sculptures by Moore has shown them to have been sand cast. Before the sculpture left the foundry it would have been cleaned, but otherwise there are no signs of any other post-cast finishing and the original marks that Moore made in the plaster have been faithfully reproduced in the bronze.
How to citeLyndsey Morgan, 'Technique and Condition', January 2014, in Alice Correia, ‘Woman 1957–8, cast date unknown by Henry Moore OM, CH’, catalogue entry, December 2013, in Henry Moore: Sculptural Process and Public Identity, Tate Research Publication, 2015, https://www
The figure’s thighs extend from the hips at right angles to the torso and form an arched canopy over a tunnelled space beneath. Although they are joined at the knees, two thighs can be distinguished due to a hole in the sculpture’s lap. While the left thigh projects horizontally beyond the edge of the base and terminates in a rounded edge just above the knee, the right thigh is thinner at the hip but expands into a bulbous, bent knee, while a short stump extends downwards, perhaps denoting a calf (fig.4). The legs have rounded ends which, unlike the ragged shoulder sockets, suggest that they are the result of a natural deformation.
The rear side is flat, with no protrusions or undulations apart from two rounded buttocks, which are flattened where they meet the base (fig.5). The left hip and buttock are slightly raised and push out to the side. An arched space between the buttocks makes it possible to see through the sculpture to the other side.
From plaster to bronze
Once the full-size plaster version was complete it was sent to a professional foundry to be cast in bronze. Tate’s version of Woman was cast at the Noack Foundry in West Berlin, the name of which is stamped on the edge of the base (fig.9). During the 1950s and early 1960s Moore used a number of different foundries in London and Paris, but started working with Noack in 1958 following an introduction by the art dealer Harry Fischer of Marlborough Fine Art, London.3 The first and second casts of Woman were produced at the Art Bronze Foundry in London, but after being introduced to Noack Moore decided to complete the edition at the Berlin foundry. In 1967 Moore stated, ‘I use the Noack foundry for casting most of my work because in my opinion, Noack is the best bronze founder I know ... Also, the Noack foundry is reliable in all ways – in keeping to dates of delivery – and in sustaining the quality of their work’.4 Traces of casting investment can be detected on the bronze surface suggesting that it was cast using the lost wax technique.5
Sources and development
Moore’s interest in the Venus of Grimaldi can be contextualised with reference to a broad tendency in early twentieth-century European modern art known as ‘primitivism’. Primitivism is a term used by art historians to describe modern art that sought to emulate the forms and values of non-Western or ancient art, which were deemed to be more emotionally or spiritually authentic than the classicism of the European fine art tradition. Moore’s interest in non-Western and ancient cultures dates from 1920, when he read Roger Fry’s influential book Vision and Design (1920) while he was a student at Leeds School of Art. Fry was a respected art critic and Vision and Design included chapters on African, Islamic and ancient American art. He proposed that the aesthetic experiences generated by non-Western art possessed an authenticity and directness that academic European art, with its focus on anatomical accuracy and technical virtuosity, had lost.
The Henry Moore Gift
Woman was cast in an edition of eight plus one artist’s cast. Tate’s version is stamped with the artist’s signature and the edition number ‘0/0’, indicating that it was originally the artist’s copy (fig.17). Other casts are held in the Israel Museum, Jerusalem; Palm Springs Desert Museum, Palm Springs; Clos Pegase Winery, Napa Valley; Portland Art Museum, Portland; Musée des Beaux-Arts, Montreal; and the British Council, London. Another bronze cast is housed with the original plaster in the Moore Collection of the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto.
How to cite
Alice Correia, ‘Woman 1957–8, cast date unknown by Henry Moore OM, CH’, catalogue entry, December 2013, in Henry Moore: Sculptural Process and Public Identity, Tate Research Publication, 2015, https://www