“Two Piece Reclining Figure #9″ (1968) bronze situated outside the National Library of Australia, Canberra.
English sculptor and artist Henry Spencer Moore was born in Castleford, West Yorkshire on 30th July 1898. He is best known for his reclining human-figure semi-abstract monumental bronze sculptures.
In his informative years Henry experimented with modelling in clay as well as carving in wood. At the age of 11 he wanted to become a sculptor which was encouraged by his art teacher and against his parents will. Despite this, he continued his art studies but they were briefly interrupted at the age of 18, when Moore volunteered for army service where he became the youngest local intake into the Prince of Wales’s Own Civil Service Rifles regiment.
After his WW1 service, Moore received an ex-serviceman’s grant to continue his education; and in 1919 he became a student at the Leeds School of Art, which set up a sculpture studio especially for him. It was here that he met Barbara Hepworth, a fellow student who would also become a well-known British sculptor. In 1921, Moore, Hepworth and other Yorkshire contemporaries won a scholarship to study at the Royal College of Art in London.
In 1924, Moore won a six-month travelling scholarship where he visited Paris and took advantage of the timed-sketching classes at the Académie Colarossi. On returning to London, he undertook a seven-year teaching post at the Royal College of Art; and in July 1929, he married Irina Radetsky, a painting student at the Royal College. Irina and Henry moved to a studio in Hampstead, London, joining a small colony of avant-garde artists including Barbara Hepworth and her second husband Ben Nicholson, who moved into a studio around the corner from them.
After their Hampstead home was hit by bomb shrapnel in September 1940, during WW2, Moore and Irina moved out of London to live in a farmhouse called Hoglands in the hamlet of Perry Green near Much Hadham in Hertfordshire, which would become Moore’s home and workshop for the rest of his life until his death on 31st August, 1986, at the age of 88. His body is interred in the local Perry Green churchyard.
Strangely, Moore’s work has frequently been subject to vandalism, especially in Europe and America. Some of these incidences include:
- King and Queen (1952–1953) sculptures were decapitated in Dumfries (1995) and daubed with blue paint in Leeds.
- Recumbent Figure also decapitated during a wartime loan to the Museum of Modern Art, New York
- Spindle Piece (1968–69) was vandalised with metal chains in Houston.
- Draped Seated Woman (1957–58) was tarred and feathered at Von der Heydt Museum in the Ruhr.
- Reclining Figure (1969–70) a 2 ton sculpture was lifted by crane from the grounds of the Henry Moore Foundation onto a lorry in December 2005 and has not been recovered. Insurance stands at £3 million.
- Sundial (1965) and the bronze plinth of another work were stolen from the Foundation’s estate and the two male perpetrators of the crime were caught and jailed for a year in 2012 for stealing them.
- Standing Figure (1950), one of four Moore pieces in the Glenkiln Sculpture Park, estimated to be worth £3 million, was stolen in October 2013.
So, if you know of any sculptural body parts that are looking for a bodily home which may fit the scenarios described above, you might need to draw Moore attention to this!