The son of a coal miner in Yorkshire, Henry Moore (1898 – 1986) could be said to have earned his living, like his father, from the direct carving of England’s native stone. Before his death at the age of eighty-eight he would become England’s most prominent twentieth century sculptor.

After serving in the trenches in World War I Moore taught at the Royal College of Art in London where he read Roger Fry’s Vision and Design (1921) and developed an interest in non-European art, especially in the stone sculptures of pre-Columbian Mexico. Unrelatedly, in 1923 he encountered the scaled-down and sleekly contoured work of Constantin Brancusi on a trip to Paris. One of his most famous recurring sculptural figures, variously called Reclining Figure or Reclining Woman or Draped Reclining Woman, clearly evinces the strong influences both of Brancusi and of the Mayan stone figure Chocmool.

During World War II materials for sculpting became hard to come by so Moore began to make sketches of his war-time environment in London. The most famous of these are the  drawings he made of Londoners taking refuge in the tunnels of the underground during the Battle of Britain.  These original drawings were very popular with the public and they secured for Moore a salaried position with the government as an Official War Artist.

After the war his work concentrated on large public sculptures, such as the white travertine marble monument for the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, and in 1948 he won the International Prize at the Venice Biennale. In the 1960s he turned to printmaking and produced important works such as Elephant Skull (1969), Stonehenge (1973), Illustrations to W.H. Auden’s Poems (1973), and the Sheep Portfolios (1972 & 1974). Moore was a prolific maker of books beginning in 1945 with The Rescue, an illustrated script by Edward Sackville-West. He went on to produce or contribute to over forty other bound books or portfolios.

 

Books with Henry Moore available from Boreas Fine Art:

Moore, Henry.  Shelter-Sketch-Book.  London: Marlborough Fine Art Ltd.  1967.

 

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