MAQUETTE FOR RECLINING FIGURE ARCH LEG 1969
Henry Moore (1898 – 1986)
- 23.3 x 10.8 x 13.0
- Accession number
After the second world war Moore no longer made preparatory drawings for sculptures, although he still experimented with three-dimensional ideas within his drawing and would sit down and sketch from his sculptures themselves. Instead, Moore worked directly with plaster and terracotta to produce maquettes of around fifteen - twenty-five centimetres long or high, using small scalpels, metal spoons, cheese graters, and other items he had conveniently to hand. In this way he could work on the whole form at once, producing maquettes like this one with no front or back, easily read from either side. Hundreds of maquettes like this stood in his studio, each one taking between twenty minutes and three days to complete. If the maquettes were kept underneath a damp cloth so they didn’t dry out, he could work on several at a time to develop an idea or experiment with different forms. He imagined them as though they were a fully-realized large bronze or stone sculpture, so that he could visualise how the piece would look on a huge scale. Not all maquettes were finished or cast, but once Moore was satisfied with a plaster, it would be cast in bronze for him to continue working from. The plaster maquettes were sent to a bronze foundry where the ‘lost wax’ method of casting was used. A rubber mould was made around the plaster, removed, and filled with wax leaving a perfect wax version of the maquette. The wax was then surrounded with a further mould of plaster and melted out to be replaced by molten bronze.
This maquette went on to be scaled up to over 4 metres long. Detailed measurements were taken of the maquette and using a grid reference, a working model around 5 times bigger was produced in plaster and again sent to be cast in bronze. As the model was enlarged further, polystyrene was used as it was easier and lighter to carve, before being transferred into plaster once again and sent to the foundry for the final casting. For large sculptures the foundry used the ‘sand casting’ technique, where sand was packed tightly around sections of the plaster model, which are then replaced by molten bronze. Once cool, the sand was then brushed off, leaving a dimpled surface which was polished and smoothed when the pieces were welded back together. A greenish patina was painted onto this maquette and the eventual monumental scale sculpture, adding to the impression that the work could be read as both figurative and landscape.
Text by Sarah Gillett, Visual Arts Manager, British Council, from the catalogue for the exhibition Henry Moore in Qatar, 2007