Henry Moore:


Born On The: 30th July 1898.
Died On The: 31st August 1986.
Occupation(s): Sculptor and artist.

Zodiac: Born under the Star Sign LeoLeoWhat Star Sign are You?

Achievement(s): CH - Companion of Honour in 1955, OM - Order of Merit in 1963 & the FBA.
Multiple Sculptures located around the world as public works of art.


Henry Spencer Moore OM CH FBA was a sculptor and artist; he was best known for his semi-abstract monumental bronze sculptures which are located around the world as public works of art; his forms are usually abstractions of the human figure, typically depicting mother-and-child or reclining figures; Moore's works are usually suggestive of the female body, apart from a phase in the 1950s when he sculpted family groups; his forms are generally pierced or contain hollow spaces; many interpreters liken the undulating form of his reclining figures to the landscape and hills of his birthplace in Yorkshire.

Moore was born in Castleford, the son of a coal miner; he became well known through his carved marble and larger scale abstract cast bronze sculptures and was instrumental in introducing a particular form of modernism to the UK; his ability in later life to fulfill large scale commissions made him exceptionally wealthy; yet he lived frugally and most of the money he earned went towards endowing the Henry Moore Foundation, which continues to support education and promotion of the arts.

Moore was born in Castleford, West Yorkshire; he was the seventh of eight children in a family that often struggled with poverty; he attended infant and elementary schools in Castleford, where he began modelling in clay and carving in wood; he professed to have decided to become a sculptor when he was eleven after hearing of Michelangelo's achievements at a Sunday School reading.

At Castleford Secondary School, his teachers soon noticed his talent and interest in medieval sculpture and was encouraged to make art his career; so he sat an examinations for a scholarship to the local art college; later after a brief introduction as a student teacher, Moore became a teacher at Castleford Secondary School.

Upon turning eighteen, Moore volunteered for army service; he was the youngest man in the Prince of Wales's Own Civil Service Rifles regiment and was injured in 1917 in a gas attack during the Battle of Cambrai; after recovering in hospital, he saw out the remainder of the war as a physical training instructor, only returning to France as the Armistice was signed; in stark contrast to many of his contemporaries, Moore's wartime experience was largely untroubled; he recalled later, "for me the war passed in a romantic haze of trying to be a hero."

After the war Moore received an ex-serviceman's grant to continue his education and in 1919 he became a student at the Leeds School of Art, now the Leeds College of Art, which set up a sculpture studio especially for him; at the college, he met Barbara Hepworth, a fellow student who would also become a well-known British sculptor and began a friendship and gentle professional rivalry that lasted for many years.

In Leeds, Moore also had access to the modernist works in the collection of Sir Michael Sadler, the University Vice-Chancellor, which had a pronounced effect on his development.

In 1921, Moore won a scholarship to study at the Royal College of Art in London, along with Hepworth and other Yorkshire contemporaries; while in London, Moore extended his knowledge of primitive art and sculpture, studying the ethnographic collections at the Victoria and Albert Museum and the British Museum.

The student sculptures of both Moore and Hepworth followed the standard romantic Victorian style and included natural forms, landscapes and figurative modelling of animals; Moore later became uncomfortable with classically derived ideals; his later familiarity with primitivism and the influence of sculptors such as Constantin Brâncusi, Jacob Epstein, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska and Frank Dobson led him to the method of direct carving, in which imperfections in the material and marks left by tools became part of the finished sculpture.

Having adopted this technique, Moore was in conflict with academic tutors who did not appreciate such a modern approach; during one exercise set by Derwent Wood, Moore was asked to reproduce a marble relief of Domenico Rosselli's The Virgin and Child by first modelling the relief in plaster, then reproducing it in marble using the mechanical technique of "pointing"; instead, he carved the relief directly, even marking the surface to simulate the prick marks that would have been left by the pointing machine.

In 1924, Moore won a six-month travelling scholarship which he spent in Northern Italy studying the great works of Michelangelo, Giotto di Bondone, Giovanni Pisano and several other Old Masters; during this period he also visited Paris, took advantage of the timed-sketching classes at the Académie Colarossi, and viewed, in the Trocadero, a plaster cast of a Toltec-Maya sculptural form, the Chac Mool; the reclining figure was to have a profound effect upon Moore's work, becoming the primary motif of his sculpture.

On returning to London, Moore undertook a seven-year teaching post at the Royal College of Art; he was required to work two days a week, which allowed him time to spend on his own work; his first public commission, West Wind (1928–29), was one of the four 'wind' reliefs high on the walls of London Underground's headquarters at 55 Broadway; the other 'winds' were carved by contemporary sculptors including Eric Gill with the ground-level pieces provided by Epstein; West Wind was carved from Portland stone and shows the influence of Michelangelo's figures for the Medici Chapel and the Chac Mool figure.

In 1932, after six year's teaching at the Royal College, Moore took up a post as the Head of the Department of Sculpture at the Chelsea School of Art; artistically, Moore, Hepworth and other members of The Seven and Five Society would develop steadily more abstract work, partly influenced by their frequent trips to Paris and their contact with leading progressive artists, notably Pablo Picasso, George Braque, Jean Arp and Alberto Giacometti.

Moore flirted with Surrealism, joining Paul Nash's modern art movement "Unit One", in 1933. Moore and Nash were on the organising committee of the International Surrealist Exhibition, which took place in London in 1936; in 1937, Roland Penrose purchased an abstract 'Mother and Child' in stone from Moore that he displayed in the front garden of his house in Hampstead; the work proved controversial with other residents and the local press ran a campaign against the piece over the next two years; at this time Moore gradually transitioned from direct carving to casting in bronze, modelling preliminary maquettes in clay or plaster rather than making preparatory drawings.

This inventive and productive period was brought to an end by the outbreak of the Second World War; the Chelsea School of Art evacuated to Northampton and Moore resigned his teaching post; during the war, Moore was commissioned as a war artist, notably producing powerful drawings of Londoners sleeping in the London Underground while sheltering from the Blitz; these drawings helped to boost Moore's international reputation, particularly in America.

After his Hampstead home was hit by bomb shrapnel in September 1940, he moved out of London to live in a farmhouse called Hoglands in the hamlet of Perry Green near Much Hadham, Hertfordshire; this was to become Moore's home and workshop for the rest of his life; despite acquiring significant wealth later in life, Moore never felt the need to move to larger premises and, apart from the addition of a number of outbuildings and studios, the house changed little over the years.

After the war his wife Irina gave birth to their daughter Mary Moore, in March 1946; she was named after Moore's mother, who had died two years earlier; both the loss of his mother and the arrival of a baby focused Moore's mind on the family, which he expressed in his work by producing many "mother-and-child" compositions; in the same year, Moore made his first visit to America when a retrospective exhibition of his work opened at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

From the late 1930's Kenneth Clark became an unlikely but influential champion of Moore's work and through his position as member of the Arts Council of Great Britain he secured exhibitions and commissions for Moore; in 1948 Moore won the International Sculpture Prize at the Venice Biennale, was one of the featured artists of the Festival of Britain in 1951 and documenta 1 in 1955.

Moore's first large-scale public bronze was for a commission outside of a Stevenage secondary school, named Family Group See sculpture:

Other notable works included a Reclining Figure for the UNESCO building in Paris in 1958, The Nuclear Energy on the site where the experiments had taken place, the Knife Edge Two Piece in 1962, for College Green near the Houses of Parliament in London and The Man Enters the Cosmos in 1980.

As his wealth grew, Moore began to worry about his legacy, so with the help of his daughter Mary, he set up the Henry Moore Trust in 1972, with a view to protecting his estate from death duties; by 1977, he was paying close to a million pounds a year in income tax; to mitigate his tax burden, he established the Henry Moore Foundation as a registered charity with Irina and Mary as trustees; the Foundation was established to encourage the public appreciation of the visual arts and especially the works of Moore; it now runs his house and estate at Perry Green, with a gallery, sculpture park and studios.

Moore turned down a knighthood in 1951 because he felt that the bestowal would lead to a perception of him as an establishment figure and that "such a title might tend to cut me off from fellow artists whose work has aims similar to mine"; he was, however, awarded the Companion of Honour in 1955 and the Order of Merit in 1963.

He was a trustee of both the National Gallery and Tate Gallery; his proposal that a wing of the latter should be devoted to his sculptures aroused hostility among some artists; in 1975, he became the first President of the Turner Society, which had been founded to campaign for a separate museum in which the whole Turner Bequest might be reunited, an aim defeated by the National Gallery and Tate Gallery.

Henry Moore died on 31st August 1986, at the age of 88, in his home in Much Hadham, Hertfordshire where his body is interred in the Perry Green churchyard.

In December 2005, thieves entered a courtyard at the Henry Moore Foundation and stole a bronze sculpture; CCT footage showed that they used a crane to lower the piece onto a stolen flatbed truck; the 1969–70 work, known as Reclining Figure is 3.6 metres long, 2 metres high by 2 metres wide and weighs 2.1 tonnes; a substantial reward was offered by the Foundation for information leading to its recovery; by May 2009, after a thorough investigation, British officials said they believe the work, once valued at £3 million, was probably sold for scrap metal, fetching about £5,000.

The Art Gallery of Ontario's Henry Moore collection is the largest public collection of his works in the world.

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