Henry Moore

Study for a family group

Study for a family group by Henry Moore

Artwork Detail

Claimed by many to be the most important British sculptor of the twentieth century, Henry Moore focused on the human figure throughout his career. Through a rich vocabulary of plastic forms sourced from the organic shapes of Britain's mountains, caves, cliffs and valleys, Moore's œuvre continually reworked the ancient relationship between the mother figure and terra mater, the earth mother. The maquette Study for a family group is part of a series derived sculpturally from his 1944 Madonna and Child at St Matthews, Northampton. A more historical source is the Renaissance trinity of St Anne, Virgin and Child, often found in the works of artists such as Verrocchio and Leonardo da Vinci. Moore was constantly torn between traditional art and more ancient, elemental images. This family trio also link back to the ancient Greek trinity of Demeter, Persephone and Triptolemus, which prefigured the Christian Trinity. Stylistically, there are connections with Moore's war series of Shelter drawings, in which sleeping bodies huddled together in the London Underground are depicted by the artist as a serried mass. Moore undertook several similar maquettes around this time, which together allow the viewer some indication of the creative process by which he worked up to a final image. More importantly, these maquettes bear the direct, individual mark of the artist, which was partially lost in the larger-scale works produced with the assistance of studio assistants. (from The Guide, 2001)

Study for a family group
Henry Moore
Production date
165 mm
Credit line
Mackelvie Trust Collection, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki purchased 1948
Accession no
Copying restrictions apply
International Art
Display status
Not on display

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