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Henry Moore

Henry Moore was deeply tied to Wakefield Art Gallery. He was born in 1898 in the neighbouring town of Castleford, the seventh of eight children.

He maintained close ties to the gallery and was President of the Wakefield Permanent Art Fund (WPAF, known also as the Friends of Wakefield Art Gallery), a post he held until his death in 1986.

Wakefield holds several significant sculptures by Moore including his Reclining Figure, 1936 (Elmwood) which entered the collection in 1942. This acquisition was one of the first major sculptures by Henry Moore to be collected by a public art gallery and is considered as highly significant within his series of carved reclining figures, a theme he returned to throughout his life.

Henry Moore, Reclining Figure, 1936 Elmwood. 64 x 115 x 52.5 cm. Purchased with aid from the Victoria and Albert Purchase Fund, Wakefield Corporation and Wakefield Permanent Art Fund (Friends of Wakefield Art Gallery and Museums), 1942. © Reproduced by permission of The Henry Moore Foundation

Other works by Moore entered the collection via various sources. The War Artist Advisory Committee, which had commissioned Moore in 1940 to make drawings of the Underground, filled with London’s inhabitants sheltering from the Blitz, presented the crayon and pencil drawing, Four Grey Sleepers, 1941 alongside other commissioned works depicting working miners.


Henry Moore, Four Grey Sleepers, 1941 Pencil, pen and ink, wax crayon and wash on paper. 42.4 x 50 cm. Presented by HM Government and the War Artists Advisory Committee, 1947.

Other works including the concrete Head of a Woman, 1926, and the bronzes Open Work Head No. 2, 1950 and Two Piece Reclining Figure No. 4, 1962 were acquired with assistance from individuals, the WPAF, the Contemporary Art Society, the V&A and the Gulbenkian Foundation.

Significantly Moore himself oversaw two further significant gifts to the collection. In 1979, he presented a complete set of his Stonehenge Suite, 1971/73, 18 lithographs and etchings to the gallery, following the purchase of single lithograph by the WPAF. To get these lithographs to the gallery Moore drove them to the gallery himself, an act that tells both of his practical nature and his warm feelings towards Wakefield and the gallery.

This was not his only act of generosity, the following year Moore placed his sculpture Draped Reclining Figure, 1979 on long-term loan to the Wakefield district.

Henry Moore, Open Work Head No. 2, 1950 Bronze. 47 x 28.6 x 28 cm. Presented by the Contemporary Art Society, 1952 © Reproduced by permission of The Henry Moore Foundation

Despite Moore’s move to Hertfordshire, Yorkshire was always in his thoughts and he demonstrated this both through his close connections to Wakefield and to his acknowledgement of the importance of the Yorkshire landscape during his formative years. Indeed, he insisted that the references to landscape in his work were always to Yorkshire, where it was still possible to see the landscape ‘as primitive man saw it.’

Henry Moore, Against the Sky, 1973. Lithograph. The Hepworth Wakefield (Wakefield Permanent Art Collection)


Related exhibitions & events

Bill Brandt / Henry Moore

6 Feb - 1 Nov 2020

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ The i
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ The Guardian
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ The Telegraph

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Yorkshire: Hepworth, Moore and the Landscape

30 Apr - 18 Sep 2016

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Making A Modern Collection

05 Jul 2014 - 19 Apr 2015

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Post-War British Sculpture and Painting

05 May 2012 - 03 Nov 2013

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Further Reading