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Henry Moore

Four Grey Sleepers

1898 – 1986

Four Grey Sleepers
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 © Reproduced by permission of The Henry Moore Foundation. Photography Norman Taylor


From 1940 Moore began to document the crowds sheltering in the London Underground during the Blitz. Describing the conditions he witnessed as ‘the most pathetic, sordid, & disheartening sight’, Moore sought to capture the claustrophobia and anxiety that so appalled and fascinated him through intricate, intense layers of scratchy lines.

When exhibited in the UK and overseas during the war, Moore’s ‘shelter drawings’ were interpreted as images of collective suffering and resilience and proved immensely successful. As a result, he could afford to give up teaching and focus solely on his art.