Working Model for Knife Edge Two Piece
1962, cast 1963
498 x 711 x 330 mm
Number 5 in an edition of 10 plus 1 artist’s copy
Technique and condition
After it had been cast and finished the sculpture was artificially patinated. This process involved applying chemical solutions to the surface that reacted with the bronze to produce coloured compounds. The sculpture’s dark brown patina has a speckled appearance suggesting that the solutions were sprayed rather than brushed onto the surface (fig.1). The patina was then rubbed back on the high points, allowing the more golden tones of the bronze to shine through. The base is patinated an even darker brown and its edges have also been rubbed back to reveal golden-brown highlights. The surface was then lacquered to prevent the exposed bronze from oxidising. The artist’s signature, ‘Moore’, is inscribed on one edge of the base, in the lower right corner of which the edition number ‘5/10’ is stamped (fig.2).
How to citeLyndsey Morgan, 'Technique and Condition', March 2013, in Alice Correia, ‘Working Model for Knife Edge Two Piece 1962, cast 1963 by Henry Moore OM, CH’, catalogue entry, October 2013, in Henry Moore: Sculptural Process and Public Identity, Tate Research Publication, 2015, https://www
The larger of the two pieces features a prominent rounded notch cut into its upper edge that curves up to a tall, sharp-tipped spur with a flat top (fig.4). This end of this form drops smoothly down to the base, whereas the other end splits into two planes separated by a deep fissure. One is thinner and slightly taller with a more curvaceous vertical face, while the other is thicker with a sheer flat face. An oval-shaped projection emerges from the side of the more curvaceous form and marks the tallest part of the sculpture (fig.5).
The surfaces of the smaller piece are similarly smooth and feature analogous curved faces and clean-cut edges but no protrusions (fig.6). From the outer edge it rises from a wider, rounded swelling at the base before narrowing as it extends upwards towards the mid-point, from which it remains a consistent width to the top edge. The overall width of the piece thins progressively into a blade-like, curved inner edge with a pointed tip that echoes the sharp angle of the spur behind it (fig.7).
Working Model for Knife Edge Two Piece marked the intermediary stage in the development of a much larger version of the sculpture. In 1963 Moore stated that ‘in my mind the final size of your [Tate’s] sculpture was meant to be well over life-size, ten or twelve feet high, so that a person could have walked along the length of the sculpture between the two forms – but it is not always possible to carry out everything in its intended full size – there just isn’t time’.6 However, Moore did eventually manage to commence work on the larger Knife Edge Two Piece. Moore’s assistants would have used the same procedures by which they enlarged the maquette to scale up the plaster working model and cast the resulting full-size plaster in bronze. The full-size Knife Edge Two Piece 1962–5 stands at 275 cm and was cast in an edition of three. One of these casts is positioned outside the Houses of Parliament in London, where it was unveiled in November 1967 (fig.9). The two other casts are held in Queen Elizabeth Park, Vancouver, and the Kykuit Rockefeller Estate, New York.
Moore also identified other reference points for Standing Figure Knife Edge. In 1966 he stated that ‘in a sculptor’s work all sorts of past experiences and influences are fused and used – and somewhere in this work there is a connection with the so-called Victory of Samothrace in the Louvre [fig.11] – and I would like to think that others see something Greek in this Standing Figure’.10 In 2008 the artist’s daughter Mary Moore proposed that traces of Winged Victory of Samothrace – a second-century BC Greek sculpture of Nike, the goddess of victory – could also be found in Working Model for Knife Edge Two Piece:
Acquisition and critical reception
How to cite
Alice Correia, ‘Working Model for Knife Edge Two Piece 1962, cast 1963 by Henry Moore OM, CH’, catalogue entry, October 2013, in Henry Moore: Sculptural Process and Public Identity, Tate Research Publication, 2015, https://www