Reclining figure

Henry MOORE: artist
Bildgießerei Hermann Noack: foundry

On Display

About the work

Henry Moore was the seventh child of a coalminer in Castleford, Yorkshire, a small town typical of the mining districts but also in close proximity to farms and country.

A story about Michelangelo told at Sunday school sparked the boy's passionate interest in that sculptor and the tactile sensation of massaging his mother's back when she suffered from rheumatism was a significant sculptural sensing of bone and flesh in the human form.

During school days discerning teachers fostered his interest in art but his father wanted him to become a teacher so he entered that profession. At eighteen, when the First World War had lasted two years, he volunteered, was sent to France and gassed during a heavy bombardment. Released from the army in 1919 he briefly resumed teaching and then enrolled at Leeds College of Art determined to be a sculptor. In 1921 he was awarded a scholarship to the Royal College of Art in London and after three years study there won a travelling scholarship, taken up in 1925. On his return he was appointed sculpture instructor at the Royal College of Art by Sir William Rothenstein, the Director, who recognised his ability but Moore was harassed by the academic prejudices of successive professors.

Recognition came slowly and his first exhibitions roused hostile criticism, though R. H. Wilenski in 1930 said 'His intention is nothing less than to make a new mould for the word "beautiful"'.1

At the conclusion of his seven-year appointment at the Royal College of Art he took up the position of Head of the Chelsea School of Art until 1939 when he gave up teaching altogether.

As an official war artist his drawings of people in air-raid shelters brought about more general understanding of his deep humanity of purpose. Since then regard for the absolute integrity of his work has grown until now he is regarded as one of the greatest sculptors and he has been accorded innumerable honours.

On art and beauty he has said 'There is no absolute element that can be called beauty. To me life, vitality and power are much more important than what people would call beauty';2 and 'An artist has to pass through a human personality to nature, and change nature into art'.3

Ella Fry, Gallery Images, St George Books, Perth, 1984

References: 1 Robert Melville, Henry Moore, Thames and Hudson, London, 1970, quoting an article in Apollo magazine; 2 Michael Chase, The Christian Science Monitor, Boston, Mass., March 1967; Patricia Morgan, The West Australian, July 1978; Herbert Read, Henry Moore, Thames and Hudson, London, 1965, quoting article by Moore in The Listener magazine.
Reclining figure
Artist/Maker and role
Henry MOORE: artist
Bildgießerei Hermann Noack: foundry
97 x 245 x 102.3 cm
Credit line
Purchased 1963
The State Art Collection, The Art Gallery of Western Australia
Accession number

This is one of the sculptures in our collection.