Henry Moore: Sculptural Process and Public Identity

ISBN 978-1-84976-391-2

Henry Moore OM, CH Upright Internal/External Form 1952-3

Upright Internal/External Form was one of the first large-scale sculptures Moore made out of plaster, and is the original version of a work that was also subsequently made in elm and bronze. Its subject relates to Moore’s interest in protective armoury and embryonic growth, while its formal origins can be traced to Moore’s wartime drawings.
Henry Moore OM, CH 1898–1986
Upright Internal/External Form
Plaster on a wooden plinth
1956 x 679 x 692 mm
Presented by the artist 1978


Upright Internal/External Form 1952–3 is a plaster sculpture comprising a vertically-orientated, rounded shell inside which an upright form is nestled. It is one of Henry Moore’s most well known sculptures and was cast in a bronze edition in c.1958.
The exterior element takes the form of an upright hollow shaft that extends from a hemispherical base to a rounded apex at the top (fig.1). While the rear is almost flat, the surface of the sides undulate and swell in places giving it an organic quality. The front, however, is marked by two large, curvaceous holes through which the interior of the form can be seen. These openings are separated by a single horizontal arch or bridge that spans the front of the sculpture approximately two thirds of the way up. Seen from the side it is evident that this bridge projects forward and overhangs the base.
Henry Moore 'Upright Internal/External Form' 1952–3
Henry Moore
Upright Internal/External Form 1952–3
Tate T02272
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved
Henry Moore 'Upright Internal/External Form' 1952–3
Henry Moore
Upright Internal/External Form 1952–3
Tate T02272
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved

Henry Moore 'Large Interior Form' 1953–4
Henry Moore
Large Interior Form 1953–4
Kansas City Sculpture Park
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved
Inside this tubular casing and visible through the two openings is a thin, vertically-oriented form that is wholly contained by the walls of the exterior piece (fig.2). This internal element is made up of two rounded, roughly elliptical forms joined by a thin, cylindrical shaft which appears to twist slightly so that the rounded forms face at different angles. A wedge shape with a single hole driven through it protrudes from the top of the upper elliptical form. Its lower half curves to follow the contours of the right-hand inner wall of the sculpture, whereas its upper half bends to the curve of the left-hand edge. The way it curves to the shape of the interior wall is suggestive of a life form occupying a cocoon, with the dimensions of the inner and outer forms complementing each other in what might appear a symbiotic or organic relationship. In 1953–4 Moore created a bronze version of the internal form as a unique standing sculpture (fig.3).

Clay, plaster, elm and bronze

In addition to casting three bronze versions of Upright Internal/External Form Moore also carved a larger version of the sculpture in elm shortly after completing the plaster version. In October 1955 Moore wrote to Gordon Smith at the Albright Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo outlining the development of this wooden version:
The first maquette for the wood ‘Internal and External Forms’ was produced in 1951. Later the same year I made the working model (24 ½” high), which was cast into bronze. The idea was always intended to be worked out over life-size, and to be in wood. But large and sound pieces of wood are not easily found, and it was after trying unsuccessfully for a year to find a suitable piece of wood that I decided I should have to make it in plaster for bronze, and this I did (6’7” high). This was completed and about to be sent to the bronze foundry for casting when my local timber merchant informed me he had a large elm tree just come in which he thought would be exactly what I wanted. It was a magnificent tree, newly cut down, five feet in diameter at its base, and looked very sound. I bought it, and decided not to go on with the bronze version but to carry out the idea as originally intended as a wood sculpture.1
Henry Moore 'Maquette for Internal and External Forms' 1951
Henry Moore
Maquette for Internal and External Forms 1951
Private collection
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved
Photo: Henry Moore Foundation Archive
Henry Moore 'Working Model for Internal and External Forms' 1951
Henry Moore
Working Model for Internal and External Forms 1951
The Henry Moore Foundation
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved
Photo: Henry Moore Foundation Archive

According to the art historian Kenneth Clark, the small maquette that Moore created in 1951 was made out of clay, a medium that Moore had regularly used during the 1930s and 1940s to create initial models for sculptures.2 It is probable that he worked from preparatory drawings and drew upon his existing sculptural vocabulary to create this maquette, which was later cast in bronze in an edition of seven (fig.4). Once Moore was happy with the design of the maquette it was then scaled-up to a ‘working model’ of intermediary size (fig.5). At this stage in his career the creation of a working model constituted a new development in Moore’s sculptural practice, for up until the early 1950s he had always enlarged his maquettes into full-size sculptures.3 The deployment of a working model coincided with Moore’s decision to use plaster rather than terracotta as the principal medium for his preliminary models.4 Indeed, the working model for Upright Internal/External Form and Tate’s full-scale version can be identified as among his first sculptures made in the material. Moore later reflected on the benefits of working in plaster, stating that ‘plaster is an important material for sculptors. Good quality plaster mixed with water sets to the hardness of a soft stone. I use plaster for my maquettes in preference to clay because I can both build it up and cut it down. It is easily worked, while clay hardens and dries, so that it cannot be added to’.5 During the 1920s and early 1930s Moore had been known for his advocacy of direct carving and his rejection of traditional modelling techniques, but by the 1950s he found that working in plaster afforded him greater artistic freedom to test ideas on smaller scales before committing to them. As the critic David Sylvester noted in 1955:
at an earlier stage in his career, there was no maquette, and it was a question of getting the size right in the act of making an idea real for the first time. What is more, the size had to be right first time, for the idea was generally carried out in stone or wood, which meant that mistakes could not be rectified and that the work went too slowly and the material cost too much for second attempts to be allowed.6
The working model was built over an internal wire armature and scaled up from the maquette using a mathematical system of measuring precise points on its surface. Producing a working model allowed Moore to test the design at a slightly larger size, although Sylvester observed that it was also ‘on a scale to fit the drawing room’ of any potential collector.7 In addition, the relative size of the internal and external forms could be considered in more detail. Like the maquette, the plaster working model was also cast in a bronze edition of seven.
Upright Internal/External Form 1952–3 in the Top Studio at Hoglands in 1953
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved
Photo: Henry Moore Foundation Archive
Working in plaster was also considerably quicker than carving in wood, and with the help of assistants Moore was able to create full-size sculptures in a relatively short period of time. The full-size plaster version of Upright Internal/External Form was created in the Top Studio in the grounds of Moore’s home, Hoglands, in Perry Green, Hertfordshire (fig.6). Using the working model as a guide, armatures, probably made of wire, were constructed for the two separate pieces. Over these structures Moore and his assistants would have applied layers of plaster with trowels and spatulas so that the two components started to gain mass. It is likely that much of the initial construction work on Upright Internal/External Form would have been undertaken by Moore’s studio assistants, who between 1951 and 1953 included Pete Atkins, Anthony Caro, Robert Clatworthy, Alan Ingham, Peter King, and Philip McCraken. Moore was able to allocate the bulk of this work to others because, as the curator Julie Summers has noted, the enlargement process was ‘a scientific rather than artistic process’.8 Moore usually worked with two or three assistants at any one time, and in 1960 he explained to the critic Donald Hall how they helped him:
I have a couple of young sculptor assistants, and between the three of us we will plan the armature. You need an armature because, with plaster sculpture, you have to build on something or you’d have a great big solid piece of plaster which is unhandleable and which takes ages to build up; so one makes an armature in wood, with perhaps chicken wire roughly to shape, but enlarged to scale. My assistants can do this after they’ve been with me for a few months or so and know the sort of methods I use. To have their help saves me a great amount of time.9
Henry Moore 'Internal and External Forms' 1953–4
Henry Moore
Internal and External Forms 1953–4
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved
Photo: Henry Moore Foundation Archive
As Moore recounted to Gordon Smith in 1955, shortly after completing the full-size plaster he purchased a large piece of elm from which he carved a version of the sculpture, which he titled Internal and External Forms (fig.7). Moore recalled that ‘the large wood version was started in early 1953’ and was carved ‘slowly over a period of two years’.10 In a discussion of the elm version the critic Herbert Read noted that ‘this is one of the sculptor’s major works and unique in that the carved form was preceded by a careful exploration of the formal possibilities in modelled clay or plaster’.11 Unlike Moore’s earlier dictum of ‘truth to materials’, whereby the forms of a sculpture were carved in response to the particular physical properties of the material, Read noted that ‘the forms appropriate to wood were visualised from the beginning, but it cannot be said that the material determined the forms’.12 Moore explained his preference of wood for this sculpture, stating that ‘it was necessary for the Upright carving to be in wood, which is alive and warm and gives a sense of growth. (Wood is a natural and living material, unlike plaster or metal which are built up by man.)’.13
When Moore first started working in plaster he regarded the sculptures as stages of the creative process and not as artworks in their own right. This explains why, when discussing the elm Internal and External Forms in 1968, Moore stated that ‘there were two versions of this sculpture, one in bronze and one in wood’.14 Moore often destroyed his original plasters after all the bronzes in an edition had been cast to ensure that no additional, unauthorised casts were made. However, in the 1950s, when demand for exhibitions of his work increased, Moore began exhibiting plaster versions when bronzes – or in this case, the carved elm – were unavailable. Indeed, an additional plaster cast of Upright Internal/External Form was made by Moore’s assistants for the British Council so that the sculpture could be included in its touring exhibition of Moore’s work between 1953 and 1959.15 It is therefore likely that it was the plaster cast of Upright Internal/External Form (rather than Tate’s original plaster) that was included in the British Council’s exhibition of Moore’s work at the 1953 International Biennial of São Paulo, which later toured to Canada (1955–6), New Zealand (1956–7), South Africa (1957), Southern Rhodesia (1957), Portugal (1959) and Spain (1959). A close-up detail of the sculpture was reproduced on the front cover of the exhibition pamphlet produced to accompany the Canadian and New Zealand exhibitions. However, in his review of the New Zealand edition of Moore’s exhibition the art historian Mark Stocker cited the artist’s former assistant Anthony Caro, who stated that Upright Internal/External Form was represented by the original plaster (Tate’s sculpture) in that leg of the tour.16
Moore’s attitude towards his plasters shifted over time, and he began to see them not simply as intermediary stages in the sculptural process but as unique works of art. In the early 1970s Moore declared that ‘These are not plaster casts; they are plaster originals ... they are actual works that one has done with one’s hands’.17 In 1973 Moore recounted the moment when he began to reconsider the value of his plasters:
A friend who works at the Victoria and Albert Museum came out one day just as we were breaking up some plasters and said, ‘But why do that, because sometimes the original plaster is actually nicer to look at than the final bronze’. He was right because sometimes an idea you’ve had and that you’ve made in the original material or plaster can suit it better than what the final bronze may do ... So, this led to the idea of not destroying the plasters, leaving me with a great many of them that I would not sell but wanted to find proper homes for.18
Having decided to stop destroying his plasters, Moore was then faced with the problem of what to do with them. Selling them on the open market would increase the risk of casts being made without his permission, but he did not have the required space to keep the plasters indefinitely. A solution was found by way of philanthropic gifts, first to the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) in Toronto in 1974, and then to the Tate in 1978.
Henry Moore
Henry Moore
Detail of Upright Internal/External Form 1952–3 showing surface colour
Tate T02272
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved
Having decided to give the AGO and Tate examples of the original plasters, in the early 1970s Moore’s studio assistants John Farnham, Michael Muller and Malcolm Woodward set about restoring and repairing the damaged plasters and removing traces of resin sealant from their surfaces. According to the curator at the AGO Alan Wilkinson, this process demonstrated ‘more clearly the extraordinary variety of surface details and textures, each of the original plasters having its own unique surface colouring and tonality’.19 In the case of Upright Internal/External Form the plaster is revealed not to be a stark white but a softer colour bordering on beige and highlighted with touches of brown and aquamarine (fig.8). According to Anita Feldman, author of the publication Henry Moore: Plasters (2011), Moore often coloured his plaster ‘with walnut crystals to give the sculptures an organic warmth’, while a pale green wash was used ‘to emulate the bronze dust which often accumulated on them over time in the foundries’.20 It is unclear whether the colours on the surface of Upright Internal/External Form were applied by Moore when the plaster was first made or by his assistants in the 1970s, or whether they are in fact residues of the casting process.

Themes and origins

In 1955 Moore explained the idea behind the sculpture as ‘a sort of embryo being protected by an outer form, a mother and child idea, or the stamen in a flower, that is, something young and growing being protected by an outer shell’.21 Discussing Upright Internal/External Form in 1968 he drew further parallels, stating that,
I have done other sculptures based on this idea of one form being protected by another. These are some of the helmets I did in 1939 in which the interior of the helmet is really a figure and the outside casing of it is like the armour by which it might be protected in battle. I suppose in my mind was also the Mother and Child idea and of birth and the child in embryo. All these things are connected in this interior and exterior idea.22
Henry Moore 'The Helmet' 1939–40
Henry Moore
The Helmet 1939–40
Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved

As Moore’s statement acknowledges, he had been thinking about the relationship between internal and external forms for some years prior to the development of his initial maquette for Upright Internal/External Form. His first sculpture exploring this theme had been The Helmet 1939–40 (fig.9). This lead sculpture was one of the last works made by Moore before the Second World War put a halt to his sculptural production in 1940.23 In it a vertical form made up of arches and ellipses, evocative of a standing figure, is enclosed within a domed shelter. When discussing his ‘Helmet Head’ series in 1980, Moore recalled that ‘the idea of one form inside another form may owe some of its incipient beginnings to my interest at one stage when I discovered armour. I spent many hours in the Wallace Collection, in London, looking at armour’.24 Given the time at which it was made, coupled with Moore’s declared interest in armoury, The Helmet and the subsequent series of helmet head sculptures may well have been prompted by the Second World War, although as Moore himself suggested, the sculptures also relate to other interests. The German psychologist Erich Neumann, for example, emphasised in 1959 that The Helmet is ‘dominated by the mother-child symbolism: it forms a uterine shell within which there dwells a child inhabitant’.25
Henry Moore OM, CH 'Standing Figures' 1940
Henry Moore OM, CH
Standing Figures 1940
Tate N05210
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved
Prior to the war Moore also explored these themes in drawings such as Standing Figures 1940 (fig.10). Kenneth Clark noted that these works are dominated by ‘hollow men (or women) who reveal through huge apertures in their bodies the struts and stays that constitute their biologically simple, but formally complex, inner mechanism’.26 Clark asserted that ‘Moore seems to have created a credible alternative to the human race, as if millions of years ago, evolution had taken a different course’.27 Moore’s appointment as an Official War Artist in 1941 put a halt to his more extreme reinventions of the figure, and Clark acknowledged that ‘the strange fact is that, although these figures were invented in 1940 ... they did not appear in sculpture till 1951’.28
Henry Moore 'Two Mothers Holding Children' 1941
Henry Moore
Two Mothers Holding Children 1941
Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved
Nonetheless, Moore’s experiences as a War Artist may have shaped his understanding of internal-external relationships. They appear to have been particularly relevant to his Shelter Drawings, which record crowds sheltering in the London Underground during air-raids. Two Mothers Holding Children 1941 (fig.11), for example, depicts figures swathed in blankets that follow the curvature of the heads and bodies beneath in a way that resembles how the outer element of Upright Internal/External Form encases and protects the inner form.
Moore resumed thinking about the relationship between interior and exterior forms in sculptural terms after the war. Drawings such as Ideas for Sculpture: Internal and External Forms 1948 demonstrate that Moore was developing ideas for the helmet-like objects and larger standing forms that first appeared in his pre-war drawings (fig.12). A sketch of Upright Internal/External Form can be seen in the centre-left of the page. Prominent features of this particular sketch include the depth inferred by the black interior against the green inner form, the upper sides of which have been picked out in white as if lit from above. The outer form has been rendered in fine black outlines while its volume has been enhanced through the use of repeated red contours.
Henry Moore 'Ideas for Sculpture: Internal and External Forms' 1948
Henry Moore
Ideas for Sculpture: Internal and External Forms 1948
Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, MA
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved
Henry Moore 'Studies for Helmets and Full-Length Enclosed Figures' 1950
Henry Moore
Studies for Helmets and Full-Length Enclosed Figures 1950
British Museum, London
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved

Moore’s drawings can be seen to closely track his work in three dimensions between 1948 and 1950. The year Moore created Studies for Helmets and Full-Length Enclosed Figures (fig.13) he also returned to the ‘helmet’ in sculptural form, creating Helmet Head No.1 1950 (Tate T00388). Three of the forms included in this drawing are repeated from Ideas for Sculpture: Internal and External Forms 1948, including the study for Upright Internal/External Form, visible in the bottom-left corner, the form sketched above it, and the two upright forms immediately to its right. It is likely that by the time he made this sketch Moore had clear conceptions of these forms as three-dimensional sculptures, enabling him to repeat them freely.
Henry Moore 'Pandore et les statues emprisionnées' 1950
Henry Moore
Pandore et les statues emprisionnées 1950
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved
Photo: Michael Phipps, Henry Moore Foundation Archive
It is also possible that Studies for Helmets and Full-Length Enclosed Figures was created as a developmental work for a series of lithographic prints made in 1950. In December 1949 Moore was invited to create a series of illustrations for the French writer André Gide’s translation of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Prometheus, itself based on Aeschylus’s ancient tragedy Prometheus Bound. Moore worked on a set of lithographs throughout 1950 that were first exhibited in Paris in May 1951. In one of these lithographs Upright Internal/External Form is presented as an ‘imprisoned statue’ (fig.14).

Interpreting archetypes

Most interpretations of Upright Internal/External Form have taken as their starting point Moore’s assertion that while making this work the ‘Mother and Child idea and of birth and the child in embryo’ was at the forefront of his mind. When discussing the sculpture in 1965 and 1968 respectively, the critics Herbert Read and John Russell both cited the same extended passage from Neumann’s 1959 book The Archetypal World of Henry Moore:
What we see here, is the mother bearing the still-unborn child within her and holding the born child against her embrace. But this child is the dweller within the body, the psyche itself, for which the body, like the world, is merely the circumambient space that shelters or casts out. It is no accident that this figure reminds us of those Egyptian sarcophagi in the form of mummies, showing the mother goddess as the sheltering womb that holds and contains the dead man like a child again, as at the beginning. Mother of life, mother of death, and all-embracing body-self, the archetypal mother of man’s germinal ego consciousness – this truly great sculpture of Moore’s is all these things in one. And just for that reason it is a genuine bodying-forth of the unitary reality that exists before and beyond the division into inside and outside, a profound and final realisation of the title it bears: Internal and External Forms. Outside and inside, mother and child, body and soul, world and man – all have been made ‘real’ in a shape at once tangible and highly symbolic.29
It is worth noting that neither Russell nor Read substantially unpacked or expanded upon Neumann’s ideas. Read simply asserted that the forms of the sculpture were determined by ‘the archetypal forms of womb and foetus’.30 According to Neumann, Moore’s use of ‘archetypes’ – subjects or forms that may be recognised and understood universally – and specifically those of the ‘mother goddess’ or ‘earth mother’, was a direct response to the Second World War:
The artist’s fascination by the mother archetype is, however, by no means only a personal phenomenon of his individual history; it represents an advance into a psychic realm that is of fateful importance not only for himself but for his whole age, if not for mankind in general ... In an age when Western man, through his exaggerated respect for the patriarchal spirit and the techniques it has engendered, is in danger of losing contact with the roots of existence, there has arisen in the unconscious, in accordance with a general psychic law, a compensatory tendency that is reactivating this feminine, maternal earth-nature aspect, which has been too much repressed.31
For Neumann, Moore’s sculptures were manifestations of a universal turn to ‘Mother Earth’ as a source of restoration and sustenance in the post-war period. As such, his works could be regarded as representative of a variant of humanist philosophy that flourished during the post-war years. Industrial technology, monolithic institutions and an absolutist view of human progress had brought about unprecedented destruction during the Second World War, and among other things humanists sought to align the goals of human progress with an appreciation for nature, of which humanity itself was a part. Accordingly, a common justification for the attribution of humanist tendencies to Moore’s sculptures was his use of organic, natural forms.32 Given Moore’s reference to a ‘stamen in a flower’, the rounded surfaces of Upright Internal/External Form might be said to resonate with organic forms such as seed pods or chrysalises. Philip Hendy, director of the National Gallery, seemed to anticipate this aspect of Upright Internal/External Form when he wrote in 1949: ‘who knows what elemental emotions have stirred this rhythmic ebb and flow of form which links the tunnelled hollow with the swelling boss? Man came to life through woman, and in her loses and finds himself again’.33
Henry Moore 'Upright Internal/External Form (Flower)' 1951
Henry Moore
Upright Internal/External Form (Flower) 1951
Didrichsen Art Museum, Helsinki
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved
Following Neumann’s thesis, the art historian Christa Lichtenstern has suggested that in a cultural context characterised by social and political upheaval, natural forms offered Moore a vocabulary suited to narratives of endurance and longevity. In this sense, the union of human bodies and natural forms conveyed by Upright Internal/External Form represented an ‘organic whole’ through which humanity would be able to rejuvenate itself.34 This idea is perhaps most convincingly embodied by Moore’s related sculpture Upright Internal/External Form (Flower) 1951, in which naturally-existing forms and rhythms are even more pronounced (fig.15). More prosaically, when discussing the elm version of Tate’s sculpture, Kenneth Clark asserted:
that Moore first carved this idea in wood is one of those chances that is not an accident, because the internal-external forms, in addition to their biological and psychological implications, are examples of his responsiveness to nature. The apertures and caves of a hollow tree, however familiar they may become, never quite lose the mystery that they held for us in our childhood.35
Malangan figure from New Ireland, Papua New Guinea, c.1882–3
British Museum, London
© Trustees of the British Museum
Moore identified another possible source for the internal-external framework of his sculpture in his 1981 photographic book Henry Moore at the British Museum. This publication contained reproductions of artworks from the British Museum’s collection that had influenced Moore during his career, alongside statements written by the artist.36 Photographs of the fifty items selected by Moore were organised according to geographical region or type. The section dedicated to Oceanic sculpture included a reproduction of Upright Internal/External Form alongside an image of a carving, now identified as a malangan figure from the north coast of New Ireland, Papua New Guinea (fig.16). In the book Moore stated that:
New Ireland carvings like this made a tremendous impression on me through their use of forms within a form. I realised what a sense of mystery could be achieved by having the inside partly hidden so that you have to move round the sculpture to understand it. I was also staggered by the craftsmanship needed to make these interior carvings. The so-called primitive peoples were often just as advanced in technique as the more developed societies.37
Moore’s knowledge of ‘so-called primitive’ cultures first came from reading the art critic Roger Fry’s influential book Vision and Design (1920) while studying at Leeds School of Art in 1920. Fry’s book contained chapters on African, Islamic and ancient American art and exemplified the increasingly widespread belief that non-Western or ancient art was more expressive or authentic than the academic classicism of European fine art traditions. As the art historian Christopher Green has suggested, for Fry and many others the turn to primitive art ‘offered a stimulus for rebuilding the broader terms of the European tradition’.38 Moore later recalled that ‘Fry opened the way to other books and to the realisation of the British Museum. That was the beginning really’.39
Henry Moore 'Internal/External Forms' c.1935
Henry Moore
Internal/External Forms c.1935
The Henry Moore Foundation
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved
In 1941 Moore’s thoughts on ‘primitive sculpture’ were published in an article in the Listener magazine. Discussing Oceanic carving, Moore noted that ‘the carvings of New Ireland have, besides their vicious kind of vitality, a unique special sense, a bird-in-a-cage form’.40 The notion of a being held within a cage was evidently a potent motif for Moore and, according to curator Alan Wilkinson, a drawing now titled Internal/External Forms c.1935 (fig.17) ‘leaves us in no doubt of Moore’s fascination with New Ireland sculpture’.41 Annotated in Moore’s handwriting with the phrase ‘forms inside forms’, this drawing comprises three studies of an upright figure held within a cylindrical cage-like structure. Wilkinson argues that the sketch on the lower left of the page ‘was almost certainly based on a carving in the British Museum’, such as the malangan figure.42
Originating from a sketchbook dated 1935 on its front cover (known as Sketchbook B), the drawing Internal/External Forms, according to Wilkinson, ‘was almost certainly the first of the internal/external drawings executed between 1935 and 1940’.43 However, Ann Garrould, the cataloguer of Moore’s drawings, has suggested that it is unlikely that all of the drawings contained within Sketchbook B date from 1935. She has proposed that, given the range of styles, media and subjects featured in the sketchbook, some of the drawings may date to the early 1930s, while others may have been executed at ‘the end of the 1940s when he was jotting down ideas for Prométhée’.44 Whether or not it was executed in the 1930s or 1940s, the drawing is a useful indicator of Moore’s early development of the figurative element of Upright Internal/External Form.

Critical reception

Henry Moore 'Reclining Figure (Internal and External Forms)' 1951
Henry Moore
Reclining Figure (Internal and External Forms) 1951
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved
Photo: Henry Moore Foundation Archive
In 1954 the magazine Britain Today published an article by David Sylvester reviewing Moore’s major sculptures made since 1951. Discussing Upright Internal/External Form and the comparable Reclining Figure (Internal and External Forms) 1951 (fig.18), Sylvester wrote:
these are powerful and dramatic works, disturbing to contemplate because of the insistence with which they invite us to project ourselves in imagination into their uterine cavities. The fact that their scale makes this physically possible is indispensible to this effect, for it does not operate at all in the small version of these two sculptures, which Moore made about three years ago and which without it seem quite pointless. Nothing could show more convincingly the truth of a statement which Moore made in 1937: ‘There is a right physical size for every idea’ ... The smaller and larger versions of these exterior-interior sculptures are almost indistinguishable in shape, yet the difference in their size makes for all the difference between meaningless formal invention and plastic poetry.45
The elm version of Upright Internal/External Form (titled Internal and External Forms) was included in Moore’s solo exhibition at the Leicester Galleries, London, in 1955. In his review of this exhibition Sylvester elaborated upon the issues of size and scale, asserting that the sculptural form of Upright Internal/External Form was ‘incomparably more successful’ in its enlarged state.46 However, Sylvester reflected that ‘if there is a criticism to be made’ of Upright Internal/External Form and its reclining counterpart (also included in the exhibition), ‘it is that they are really only an elaboration of formal ideas which Moore first explored in the late nineteen-thirties and that, while they are bigger than the things of their kind he attempted then, they are better only in terms of technical accomplishment’.47 He suggested that the large-scale elm sculpture lacked the ‘kick’ or immediacy of some of his earlier works, concluding that ‘it is not easy for any artist, least of all an artist of Moore’s wide-ranging mind to sustain over a period of twenty years the imaginative impetus and intensity that an idea is charged with when it is first conceived’.48
The art historian Alan Bowness was more effusive in his review of the Leicester Galleries exhibition, writing that:
the magnificent Upright Exterior and Interior Forms ... is in the traditional Moore manner, organic humanist sculpture, in which the forms have that elemental power Moore so admired in primitive art ... From a superb piece of elm-wood, the exterior form is hollowed out to cradle the interior form, which seems to be twisting and shouldering its way out of an enclosing womb.49
‘Elemental’ was a term used more than once to describe the elm version. An unnamed critic writing in the Times stated:
Mr Henry Moore’s exhibition of recent sculptures and early drawings at the Leicester Galleries is dominated by two massively characteristic works – a stylised structure in elm wood entitled ‘Upright Exterior and Interior Forms’ and a large wholly formal ‘Reclining Figure’ in bronze with a green patina. The light sheen of the wood, the smoothness and poise with which the whole tension of hollow spaces and curving forms has been carved out of what was originally one vast tree trunk make this first exhibit arresting work. (It has, incidentally, already been purchased by an American museum.) The relation between the strongly carved outer shell with its round solid base and the lithe interior forms have something elemental about it (an emotionally disturbing quality that contrasts with the more placid rhythms of the reclining bronze) – familiar in form – in which the spaces and forms are harmoniously and integrally reconciled.50
The American museum that had acquired the elm version was the Albright Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo. In 1955 Moore wrote to the curator Gordon Smith regarding the display of the sculpture, explaining that he preferred for it to be shown in top-lit gallery spaces so that light ‘does not shine too directly into the interior’. Moore found that lighting the sculpture from above ‘lets the interior look like a cave, with some mystery in it’.51 He went on to state:
I think its height need not be more than a few inches above the ground as already it looks large enough, and raising it would make it perhaps too cut off from the spectator. Its idea needs to be connected with the size of a human being and the spectator should be able to imagine himself standing in the place of the interior form.52
In 1960 one of the bronze casts of Upright Internal/External Form was exhibited in Moore’s solo exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery, London. Curated by Bryan Robertson, the show comprised sculptures made since 1950 and was Moore’s first major exhibition in London since his 1955 show at the Leicester Galleries. In 1968 Moore reflected that:
The good thing about my exhibition at Whitechapel Gallery, which Bryan Robertson arranged and organised so well, was that, for the first time, I had thirty or more sculptures all in one room, rather than in several smaller rooms. I liked the fact that the Gallery is on ground level and opens straight onto the street, so that people are encouraged to come in. Women even brought their children in prams. That doesn’t happen in many galleries.53
The exhibition was generally well received in the press. The critic Keith Sutton wrote in the Listener that ‘the power and quality of it all is undeniable and satisfying’,54 while the critic David Thompson declaring in the Times that:
the quite extraordinary power and authority of the finest pieces in the exhibition exist in a sort of loneliness and silence, withdrawn from the madding crowd. This in itself is one of the many paradoxes inherent in the appeal of Moore’s art. As often as it retreats from immediate human contact and sympathy, it solicits them by its strong sense of pathos.55
However, in 1994 Bryan Robertson revealed that some visitors to the 1960 exhibition had felt uneasy about Moore’s work. Considering the exhibition in relation to the Whitechapel’s 1954 display of sculptures by Barbara Hepworth, Robertson recalled that he ‘discovered that the public was more at ease at that time with total abstraction, provided it was free of any morbidity, than awkward semi-abstract work with worrying figurative undertones. Moore’s sculpture, shown later at Whitechapel, was more of a problem for the uninitiated’.56

The Henry Moore Gift

Upright Internal/External Form 1952–3 on display in the exhibition The Henry Moore Gift, Tate Gallery 1978
Tate Archives
Upright Internal/External Form was presented by Henry Moore to the Tate Gallery in 1978 as part of the Henry Moore Gift. The Gift comprised thirty-six sculptures in bronze, marble and plaster and was exhibited in its entirety alongside Tate’s existing collection of Moore’s work in an exhibition celebrating the artist’s eightieth birthday, which opened in June 1978. A press release was duly prepared announcing that ‘The group [of sculptures] is the most substantial gift of works ever given to the Tate by an artist during his lifetime’.57 Upright Internal/External Form was included in the exhibition and displayed in gallery twenty-six alongside Reclining Figure 1951 (Tate T02270; fig.19). The exhibition was attended by over 20,500 people and nearly 11,000 copies of the catalogue were sold.58 At the close of the exhibition in late August 1978 the Director of Tate Norman Reid reflected in a letter to Moore’s daughter Mary Danowski that although he was sad to see the exhibition come to an end ‘we have the consolation of the splendid group of sculptures which Henry has presented to the nation’.59 In September 1979 Tate temporarily returned Upright Internal/External Form to Moore so that additional casts of the sculpture could be made. Records held in the Tate Conservation Department do not make it clear whether these casts were in bronze or plaster. A plaster cast of Upright Internal/External Form is held in the collection of the Henry Moore Foundation, although whether this was the cast made by the British Council in the 1950s or a version made in 1979 is not known. Of the three bronze casts made in c.1958 one is currently held in the Kunsthalle Hamburg and another at Västertorp Sculpture Park in Stockholm. The third, formerly in the collection of Andrew Gagarin, was sold at Christie’s, New York, in 1996 for $1,322,500 and is believed to be held in a private collection.60

Alice Correia
January 2014


Henry Moore, letter to Gordon Smith, 31 October 1955, reprinted in Alan Wilkinson (ed.), Henry Moore: Writings and Conversations, Aldershot 2002, p.277.
Kenneth Clark, Henry Moore Drawings, London 1974, p.114.
See, for example, Family Group 1949, cast 1950–1 (Tate N06004), which was developed from the maquette to full size without a working model.
David Mitchinson (ed.), Moore and Mythology, exhibition catalogue, Henry Moore Foundation, Perry Green 2007, p.11.
Henry Moore cited in Gemma Levine, With Henry Moore: The Artist at Work, London 1978, p.124.
David Sylvester, ‘Henry Moore’s Recent Sculpture’, Listener, 3 November 1955, p.754.
Ibid., p.754.
Julie Summers, ‘Fragment of Maquette for King and Queen’, in Claude Allemand-Cosneau, Manfred Fath and David Mitchinson (eds.), Henry Moore. From the Inside Out: Plasters, Carvings and Drawings, Munich 1996, p.126.
Henry Moore cited in Donald Hall, ‘Henry Moore: An Interview by Donald Hall’, Horizon, November 1960, reprinted in Wilkinson 2002, p.226.
Moore, letter to Gordon Smith, 1955, reprinted in Wilkinson 2002, p.277.
Herbert Read, Henry Moore: A Study of his Life and Work, London 1965, p.182.
Ibid., pp.182, 185.
Moore, letter to Gordon Smith, 1955, reprinted in Wilkinson 2002, p.277.
Henry Moore cited in John Hedgecoe (ed.), Henry Moore, London 1968, p.198.
Margaret McLeod, letter to Richard Calvocoressi, 18 August 1980, Tate Artist Catalogue File, Henry Moore, A23946
Mark Stocker, ‘The Best Thing Ever Seen in New Zealand: The Henry Moore Exhibition of 1956–57’, Sculpture Journal, vol.16, no.1, 2007, p.89, note 35.
Henry Moore cited in Henry J. Seldis, Henry Moore in America, New York 1973, p.222.
Ibid., pp.222–3.
Alan G. Wilkinson, Henry Moore Remembered: The Collection at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, Toronto 1987, p.18.
Anita Feldman, ‘Moore: The Plasters’, in Anita Feldman and Malcolm Woodward, Henry Moore: Plasters, London 2011, pp.12, 19.
Moore, letter to Gordon Smith, 1955, reprinted in Wilkinson 2002, p.277.
Moore cited in Hedgecoe 1968, p.198.
David Sylvester, Henry Moore, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1968, p.85.
Henry Moore in conversation with David Mitchinson, 1980, extract of transcript reprinted in Wilkinson 2002, p.213.
Erich Neumann, The Archetypal World of Henry Moore, London 1959, p.100.
Clark 1974, p.114.
Neumann 1959, pp.127–8, cited in Read 1965, pp.185–6 and John Russell, Henry Moore, New York 1968, p.121.
Read 1965, p.185.
Neumann 1959, pp.41–2.
For a discussion of Moore and humanism see James Hyman, The Battle for Realism: Figurative Art in Britain during the Cold War 1945–1960, New Haven and London 2001, pp.90–5.
Philip Hendy, ‘Henry Moore: His New Exhibition’, Britain Today, no.158, June 1949, p.36.
Christa Lichtenstern, Henry Moore: Work-Theory-Impact, London 2008, p.241.
Clark 1974, pp.114, 119.
In his introduction to the book Moore concluded that ‘It has been a wonderful experience for me to recapture the delight, the excitement, the inspiration I got in these pieces as a young and developing sculptor’. Henry Moore, Henry Moore at the British Museum, London 1981, p.16.
Moore 1981, p.81.
Christopher Green, ‘Expanding the Canon: Roger Fry’s Evaluations of the “Civilized” and the “Savage”’, in Christopher Green (ed.), Art Made Modern: Roger Fry's Vision of Art, exhibition catalogue, Courtauld Institute Galleries, London 1999, p.126.
Henry Moore cited in James Johnson Sweeny, ‘Henry Moore’, Partisan Review, March–April 1947, reprinted in Wilkinson 2002, p.44.
Henry Moore, ‘Primitive Art’, Listener, 24 April 1941, pp.598–9, reprinted in Wilkinson 2002, p.105.
Alan Wilkinson, ‘Henry Moore’ in William Rubin (ed.), Primitivism in Twentieth Century Art, exhibition catalogue, Museum of Modern Art, New York 1984, vol.2, p.605.
Alan Wilkinson, ‘Moore: A Modernist Primitive’, in Dorothy Kosinski (ed.), Henry Moore: Sculpting the 20th Century, exhibition catalogue, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas 2001, p.38.
Ann Garrould (ed.), Henry Moore. Volume 2: Complete Drawings 1930–39, London 1998, p.140.
David Sylvester, ‘Henry Moore’s Sculpture’, Britain Today, no.215, March 1954, p.34.
Sylvester 1955, p.754.
Alan Bowness, ‘Henry Moore’, Arts News and Review, vol.7, no.21, 12 November 1955, p.5.
Anon., ‘Mr Moore’s New Sculpture: A Transitional Phase’, Times, 1 November 1955, p.3.
Moore, letter to Gordon Smith, 1955, reprinted in Wilkinson 2002, p.277.
Ibid., p.278.
Moore cited in Hedgecoe 1968, p.381.
Keith Sutton, ‘Henry Moore at Whitechapel’, Listener, 8 December 1960, p.1070.
Our Art Critic [David Thompson], ‘Mr Henry Moore’s Exhilarating Exhibition’, Times, 28 November 1960, p.6.
Bryan Robertson, ‘Barbara Hepworth’, Modern Painters, vol.7, 1 September 1994, p.53.
See ‘Note on the Henry Moore Gift’, 1978, Tate Public Records TG 4/6/10/4.
These figures are based on those listed in a memo in the records for the exhibition. See Tate Public Records TG 92/344/2.
Norman Reid, letter to Mary Danowski, 31 August 1978, Tate Public Records TG 4/6/10/4.
Andrew Gagarin was identified as the owner of one of the bronze casts in Alan Bowness (ed.), Henry Moore. Volume 2: Sculpture and Drawings 1949–1955, 1955, 2nd edn, London 1965, p.xxvi. See also ‘Henry Moore, Internal and External Forms, 1958, Lot 66’, Impressionist & Modern Paintings, Drawings & Sculpture. Part 1: Sale 8410, sales catalogue, 30 April 1996, Christie’s, New York 1996, http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/LotDetailsPrintable.aspx?intObjectID=1073086, accessed 7 January 2014.

How to cite

Alice Correia, ‘Upright Internal/External Form 1952–3 by Henry Moore OM, CH’, catalogue entry, January 2014, in Henry Moore: Sculptural Process and Public Identity, Tate Research Publication, 2015, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research/content/1172240?project=4, accessed 07 May 2024.