RECLINING FIGURE: BLANKET 1939
Henry Moore (1898 – 1986)
- 23.5 x 12.0 x 13.0 cm
- Accession number
In 1935 Henry Moore and his wife Irina bought a cottage in Burcroft, south-east England, where Moore continued to work until the travel restrictions of the Second World War meant that they moved back to London. At Burcroft Moore carried on drawing, carving and casting small lead maquettes, using Irina’s saucepans to melt the lead. This maquette of a reclining figure may have been influenced by the Moores’ routine at that time, starting their days with a swim off the nearby cliffs, relaxing on the beach with their towels. One of Moore’s favourite works of art was Cezanne’s Bathers, owning a small oil sketch of the painting which he responded to with his own sculptural interpretation later in life and it is possible this figure represents a happy time of peace and relaxation. However, there could be another reading of the figure. Whilst swimming one morning at Burcroft the Moores’ heard of the outbreak of war and Moore said that he had a sudden vision of swimmers all wearing gas masks, making drawings around this subject which were dark and surreal. This figure’s composition is strikingly similar to Moore’s Shelter drawings of the following year, sketched in London Underground stations where many people slept for safety during the war. A blanket is wrapped around the torso of a disturbed figure, woken from sleep and watchful and wary of intrusion. The modelling of the blanket, too insubstantial to cover much of the torso, draws our attention to the vulnerability of the otherwise naked form, lying uncomfortable on an unyielding slab of bronze.
Text by Sarah Gillett, Visual Arts Manager, British Council, from the catalogue for the exhibitionHenry Moore in Qatar, 2007