Henry Moore Signed Prints & Originals

Biography for Henry Moore (1898-1986)

Henry Moore; radical, experimental and avant-garde is famous throughout the world for his distinctive public sculptures. In Britain his undulating reclining forms have become part of the landscape. Born into a working class family in Leeds, Henry Moore went on to become one of Britain's most famous artists.

Winning scholarships to both Leeds school of Art and then the Royal College of Art in London, Henry Moore rebelled against his teachers' traditional views of sculpture, instead taking inspiration from the primitive art and sculpture and studying the ethnographic collections he found at the Victoria and Albert Museum and the British Museum. In 1924 on winning yet another scholarship Henry Moore was able to travel to Northern Italy to study the great works of Michelangelo and other Old Masters. Taking in Paris along the way, Henry Moore came upon a plaster cast of a Toltec-Maya sculptural form in the Louvre called the 'Chac Mool'. This reclining figure was to have a profound effect upon Henry Moore's work, becoming the primary motif of his work.

Henry Moore pioneered carving directly from materials, evolving his signature abstract forms derived from the human body; such as the reclining figure, mother and child, abstract compositions and drawings of wartime London. Henry Moore's works are situated in the turbulent ebb and flow of twentieth-century history, sometimes uncovering a dark and erotically charged dimension. The trauma of war, the advent of psychoanalysis, new ideas of sexuality, primitive art and surrealism all had an influence on Henry Moore's work.

Henry Moore was an expert draughtsman and printmaker. On his return to the Royal College of Art as a teacher in 1931 Henry Moore began experimenting with graphic mediums. Henry Moore began by cutting his first and only pair of woodcuts: 'Figure Sculptures' and 'Reclining Nude' during this time. However, they were not editioned and published until 1966. Other prints from the 1930's were started but never finished; including 'Spanish Prisoner'. It was the height of the Spanish Civil War at this time and Henry Moore wanted to draw the public's attention to the plight of the political prisoners.

In 1946 Henry Moore produced his first etching, used as an illustration to a poem by Herbert Read. Herbert Read being Henry Moore's Hampstead friend and neighbour during the halcyon days of The Seven and Five Society. The etching was never published.

1950 saw Henry Moore hit his stride in terms of printmaking, discovering the medium of lithography his sculptural images came alive on the paper. Fine examples being: Lithograph print, 'Family Group', edition of 50, signed lower right in pencil Moore - The same name given to Henry Moore's first large-scale public sculpture. Lithograph print, 'Seated Figure', edition of 50, signed lower right in pencil Moore. Lithograph print, 'Standing Figures', edition of 50, signed lower right in pencil Moore. Lithograph print, 'Standing and Reclining Figures', edition of 50, signed lower right in pencil Moore. Lithograph print, 'Seated Figures', edition of 200, signed lower right in pencil Moore. Lithograph print, 'Six Reclining Figures', edition of 60, signed lower right in pencil Moore. Lithograph print, 'Studies for Sculpture on Blue Grey Background', edition of 60, signed lower right in pencil Moore. Lithograph print, 'Eight Reclining Figures', edition of 300, signed lower right in pencil Moore. Lithograph print, 'Thirteen Standing Figures', edition of 150, signed lower right in pencil Moore. And lithograph print 'Seventeen reclining Figures' 1963, edition of 75, signed lower right in pencil Moore.

Henry Moore's love of printmaking continued into the 1960's with such expertly executed works such as: Lithograph print 'Seventeen Reclining Figures with Architectural Background', edition of 75, signed lower right in pencil Moore. And Lithograph print 'Six Reclining Figures Black', edition of 50, signed lower right in pencil Moore. In this Lithograph print, each figure looks to be carved directly from charcoaled wood, so life like to his sculpture in fact that if you were to touch an image on the paper you might check your finger tips to see if they are blackened!

In the mid'sixties came a period of intense activity in both lithography and etching, leading to the album 'Meditations on the Effigy', published in 1966/67 on the occasion of Henry Moore's seventieth birthday. The standard portfolio consists of ten lithographs and two etchings, edition size 50. A further 'special' edition portfolio 'The edition de Tete' displayed in a leather case was published with two additional lithograph prints: 'Two Forms in Red and Yellow' and 'Three Forms in Orange and Yellow', edition size 20. Contents of Standard Portfolio are: Lithograph print 'Standing Figures', edition of 50, signed lower right in pencil Moore. Lithograph print 'Eight Reclining Figures I', edition of 50, signed lower right in pencil Moore. Lithograph print 'Upright Motifs', edition of 50, signed lower right in pencil Moore. Lithograph print 'Bird Motif', edition of 50, signed lower right in pencil Moore. Lithograph print 'Large Reclining Figure and Small Motifs', edition of 50, signed lower right in pencil Moore. Lithograph print 'Motif in Red Blue and Yellow', edition of 50, signed lower right in pencil Moore. Lithograph print 'Reclining Figure and Torsos', edition of 50, signed lower right in pencil Moore. Lithograph print 'Two Reclining Figures in Yellow and Red', edition of 50, signed lower right in pencil Moore. Lithograph print 'Two Reclining Figures in Yellow and Green', edition of 50, signed lower right in pencil Moore. Lithograph print 'Eight Reclining Figures II', edition of 50, signed lower right in pencil Moore. Etching and dry point print 'Seated Mother and Child', edition of 50, signed lower right in pencil Moore. Etching print 'Crowd looking at a Tied-Up Object' edition of 50, signed lower right Moore.

Following the success and highly sort after nature of 'Meditations on the Effigy' Henry Moore drew seven lithographs for inclusion in the facsimile edition of Henry Moore's 'Shelter Sketchbook' 1966/67 which consists of eighty drawings reproduced by collotype and a preface by the artist. These gloriously sumptuous and colourful prints are: Lithograph print 'Black Seated Figure on Orange Ground', edition of 180, signed lower right Moore. Lithograph print 'Black Seated Figure on Orange Ground', edition of 180, signed lower right in pencil Moore.

Lithograph print 'Eight Reclining Figures', edition of 75, signed lower right in pencil Moore. Lithograph print 'Three Standing Figures', edition of 180, signed lower right in pencil Moore. Lithograph print 'Mother and Child', edition of 180, signed lower right in pencil Moore. Lithograph print 'Reclining Figures with Blue Central Composition', edition of 75, signed lower right in pencil Moore. Lithograph print 'Two Seated Women', edition of 180, signed lower right in pencil Moore. Lithograph print 'Violet Torso on Orange Stripes', edition of 180, signed lower right in pencil Moore.

For many years Henry Moore and his family spent their summers at their house in Italy, whilst there Henry Moore continued on his graphic works in Florence at the Bisonte Gallery. After the disastrous flood of 1967 when the gallery and its contents was wrecked, Henry Moore made the owner Maria Luigia Guaita a Lithograph print: 'Heads Ideas for Sculpture', edition of 50, signed in pencil Moore. And a portfolio of prints combining etchings with coloured lithographic background, edition size 50: Signed lithograph print 'Frontispiece of Il Bisonte Cartella'. Signed etching and lithograph print 'Six Sculpture Motives'. Signed etching and lithograph print 'Two Draped Standing Figures'. Signed etching and lithograph print 'Two Women'. Signed etching and lithograph print 'After the Accident'. Signed etching and lithograph print 'Two Figures Talking'.

From the beginning of 1970 Henry Moore began experimenting with new etching techniques such as soft ground etching and aquatints in colour, employing several plates for the same composition. 1971 saw the release of the serenely subtle coloured lithographs: 'Three Reclining Figures, edition of 75, signed lower right in pencil Moore, Cat no 180 in 'Henry Moore The Graphic Work 1931-1972'. 'Three Reclining Figures, edition of 90, signed lower right in pencil Moore, Cat no 181 in 'Henry Moore The Graphic Work 1931-1972'. 'Three Reclining Figures', edition of 90, signed lower right in pencil Moore, Cat no 182 in 'Henry Moore The Graphic Work 1931-1972'. 'Three Reclining Figures, edition of 95, signed lower right in pencil Moore, Cat no 183 in 'Henry Moore The Graphic Work 1931-1972'. And by the end of 1972 Henry Moore had finished working on the life cycle of sheep. These extraordinarily beautiful dry point and aquatint etchings make up the portfolio 'Sheep Album' and are: Etching and dry point print 'Sheep in a Field' 1974, edition of 80, signed lower right in pencil Moore. Etching and dry point print 'Sheep with Lamb I' 1972, edition of 80, signed lower right in pencil Moore. Etching and dry point print 'Sheep with Lamb II' 1972, edition of 80, signed lower right in pencil Moore. Etching and dry point print 'Sheep with Lamb IV' 1972, edition of 80, signed lower right in pencil Moore. Etching and dry point print 'Fat Lambs' 1974, edition of 80, signed lower right in pencil Moore. Etching and dry point print 'Sheep' 1972, edition of 80, signed lower right in pencil Moore. Etching and dry point print 'Head' 1974, edition of 80, signed lower right in pencil Moore. Etching print 'The Show Sheep' 1974, edition of 80, signed lower right in pencil Moore. Etching and dry point print 'Ready for Shearing' 1974, edition of 80, signed lower right in pencil Moore. Etching print 'Sheep Back View' 1972, edition of 80, signed lower right in pencil Moore. Etching and dry point print 'Shorn Sheep' 1974, edition of 80, signed lower right in pencil Moore. Etching and dry point print 'Shorn Sheep with Lamb' 1974, edition of 80, signed lower right in pencil Moore. Etching and dry point print 'Sheep with lamb III' 1972, edition of 80, signed lower right in pencil Moore. Etching print 'Family' 1974, edition of 80, signed lower right in pencil Moore. Etching and aquatint print 'Sheep in landscape' 1974, edition of 80, signed lower right in pencil Moore. Etching and aquatint 'Sheep in Snow Scene' 1974, edition of 80, signed lower right in pencil Moore.

By the end of the 1970's there were some 40 exhibition a year featuring Henry Moore's work and the number of commissions continued to increase universally. When Henry Moore completed 'Knife Edge' near the Houses of Parliament in London he said "When I was offered the site near the house of Lords…..I liked the place so much that I didn't bother to go and see an alternative site in Hyde Park - one lonely sculpture can be lost in a large park. The House of Lords site is quite different. It is next to a path where people walk and it has a few seats where they can sit and contemplate it."

Henry Moore produced over seven hundred graphic works of various kinds. And like his sculptures all were given very simple titles. When asked why this was Henry Moore replied "All art should have a certain mystery and should make demands on the spectator. Giving a sculpture or a drawing too explicit a title takes away part of that mystery so that the spectator moves on to the next object, making no effort to ponder the meaning of what he has just seen. Everyone thinks that he or she looks but they don't really, you know."

The pressures of old age, which made work on sculpture physically tiring, as well as worldwide commercial demand with its insatiable appetite for something new, led to an outburst of activity in printmaking during the last 15 years of Henry Moore's life. From his printmaking studio at Perry Green he produced some excellent prints including 'The Reclining Figure' album that consists of eight etching prints: Etching print 'Reclining Figure' 1977/78, edition of 25, signed lower right Moore. Etching and aquatint print 'Reclining Figure 2' 1977/78, edition of 25, signed lower right Moore. Etching and aquatint print 'Reclining Figure 3' 1977/78, edition of 25, signed lower right Moore. Etching 'Reclining Figure 4' 1977/78, edition of 25, signed lower right Moore. Etching print 'Reclining Figure 5' 1978, edition of 25, signed lower right Moore. Etching print 'Reclining Figure 6' 1977/78, edition of 25, signed lower right Moore. Etching, dry point and aquatint print 'Reclining Figure 7' 1977/78, edition of 25, signed lower right Moore. Etching and aquatint print 'Reclining Figure 8' 1977/78, edition of 25, signed lower right Moore. Also in 1978 came the publication of the etching and dry point prints: 'Reclining Nude I' and 'Reclining Nude II', editions of 50 and both signed lower right in pencil Moore.

Other beautifully crafted etchings to emerge from this period include: 'Elephants' 1979, edition of 50, signed lower right in pencil Moore. Etching print 'Elephant' 1981, edition of 50, signed lower right in pencil Moore. Etching and dry point print 'Mother and Child' 1979, edition of 50, signed lower right in pencil Moore. Etching and dry point print 'Reclining Figure Piranesi Background I' 1979, edition size 50, signed lower right in pencil Moore. Etching print 'Reclining Figure Piranesi Background II' 1979, edition size 50, signed lower right in pencil Moore. Etching print 'Reclining Figure Piranesi Background III' 1979, edition size 50, signed lower right in pencil Moore. Etching and dry point print 'Reclining Mother and Child I' 1979, edition of 50, signed lower right in pencil Moore. Etching and dry point print 'Reclining Mother and Child I Profile' 1979, edition of 50, signed lower right in pencil Moore. Etching and dry point print 'Reclining Mother and Child II' 1979, edition of 50, signed lower right in pencil Moore. Etching and dry point print 'Seated Figure' 1979, edition of 50, signed lower right in pencil Moore. Etching print 'Seated Figure with Architecture Background' 1979, edition of 50, signed lower right in pencil Moore. And etching print 'Mother and Child XVI' 1983, edition of 65, signed in pencil Moore.

Henry Moore's graphic works were often working drawings to his recumbent, feminine, sculptures. Their sense of massive slumber and waiting is evident in such Lithograph prints as: 'Reclining Figure' 1974, edition of 75, signed lower right in pencil Moore. 'Draped Reclining Figure' 1975, edition of 50, signed lower right in pencil Moore. And etching and aquatint prints: 'Reclining Figure' 1976, edition of 125, signed lower right in pencil Moore. 'Reclining Figure Back' 1976, edition of 100, signed lower right in pencil Moore. And 'Reclining Figure Point' 1976, edition of 100, signed lower right in pencil Moore.

Henry Moore declined 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 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 and in 1972, with the help of his daughter set up the Henry Moore Trust. In 1977 Henry Moore formed the Henry Moore Foundation, a charitable organisation which still administers the allocation of grants, bursaries and scholarships to promote sculpture within the cultural life of Britain today. The Henry Moore Foundation also cares for the artist's former studios and for a large collection of Moore's sculptures, drawings and graphics.

Henry Moore died at his home in Hertfordshire on 31st August 1986, where his body is interred.

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