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.
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.
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.
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.’
Related exhibitions & events
Bill Brandt / Henry Moore
6 Feb - 1 Nov 2020
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ The Guardian
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ The Telegraph
Yorkshire: Hepworth, Moore and the Landscape
30 Apr - 18 Sep 2016
Making A Modern Collection
05 Jul 2014 - 19 Apr 2015
Post-War British Sculpture and Painting
05 May 2012 - 03 Nov 2013