Working Model for Reclining Figure: Prop
Born 1898 Castleford, United Kingdom
Died 1986 Much Hadham, United Kingdom
15 5/8 x 31 5/8 x 15 1/2 inches
Accession date: 2011
Gift of Sara Jo Kobacker
Sculpted when he was 78, this plump reclining figure is a summation of Henry Moore’s characteristic style and favored theme. Formulated decades earlier and revisited throughout his extensive career. The inspiration for this favored theme came to the sculptor in 1922 while visiting a museum in Paris. He encountered a plaster cast of an original pre-Columbian stone carving of a reclining figure. It was called a Chacmool, which is a reclining figure that turns its head facing 90 degrees from the front, supports itself on its elbows and holds a bowl or a disk upon its stomach. This event would inform Moore’s are for the remainder of his very long career. Working Model for Reclining Figure: Prop is slightly reworked with the head turned at less of a 90-degree angle and only a single elbow firmly planted to prop up her body.
It is also the second of three sizes and versions created by the sculptor; first developed as a smaller maquette, then enlarged to this size, and finally conceived as a near life-size version in 1982, a cast of which is in the collection of the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Caracas. Whether sculpting a small maquette or a soaring monumental end product, Moore kept his trademarked style of the pierced form, where the negative space held as much prominence as the undulating shapes. He created a rhythmic rise and fall of shapes and voids that when joined together form one of the most original and expressive interpretations of the natural, yet abstracted human figure; thereby affording Henry Moore the accolade of, “the most important British sculptor of the 20th century.”