Henry Moore - Draped Reclining Woman

UEA Sculpture Trail

Henry Moore - Draped Reclining Woman

Norwich, England NR4 7AF, United Kingdom

Created By: Stephen Amiss

Point of Interest Details


Acquired by Sir Robert and Lady Sainsbury in 1960, it was first sited in the gardens of Bucklebury, their country home. Thence to its present site facing the restaurant at the Sainsbury Centre. Half-reclining female figure with large body and small head oriented to look across the lawn away from the trees, raised on a simple concrete pedestal. The head is simplified with two holes for eyes while the body is covered with drapery, folds accentuating the form. One arm is supporting the torso's upright position while the other rests on the uppermost thigh. There is a gap between the two legs but the feet are joined, with hand and legs set on a rectangular bronze base

The sculpture has its origins in the 1957-8 commission for a major sculpture to stand outside the UNESCO headquarters in Paris. Moore produced a wide range of figures before settling on the final Roman Travertine Reclining Figure LH416. Some of his variations looked back to the Shelter drawings made during the Second World War, represented by the 1940 Group of Shelterers in the Sainsbury collection, perhaps prompted by the idea that UNESCO's wide range of activities includes protection, of buildings, rather than people. One of these variations was a full scale plaster model of 1957-58 now in the Henry Moore Sculpture Center, Toronto, Ontario, part of Moore's gift in 1974. Another of this group was the bronze Draped Seated Figure also of 1957-58 (LH428) now in the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, where both the pose and the dapery were derived more directly from the Shelter drawings. Moore's use of drapery illustrates his views that ‘Drapery played a very important part in the shelter drawings I made in 1940 and 1941 and what I began to learn then about its function as form gave me the intention, sometime or other, to use drapery in sculpture in a more realistic way than I had ever tried to use it in my carved sculpture. And my first visit to Greece in 1951 perhaps helped to strengthen this intention . . . Drapery can emphasise the tension in a figure, for where the form pushes outwards, such as on the shoulders, the thighs, the breasts, etc., it can be pulled tight across the form (almost like a bandage), and by contrast with the crumpled slackness of the drapery which lies between the salient points, the pressure from inside is intensified . . . Drapery can also, by its direction over the form, make more obvious the section, that is, show shape. It need not be just a decorative addition, but can serve to stress the sculptural idea of the figure.’ In addition to the work which Moore saw in Greece he must have been influenced by the great 5th century BC Elgin marbles, from the Parthenon in Athens and housed, now with considerable controversy, in the British Museum since 1816.

This point of interest is part of the tour: UEA Sculpture Trail


Leave a Comment



Download the App

Download the PocketSights Tour Guide mobile app to take this self-guided tour on your GPS-enabled mobile device.

iOS Tour Guide Android Tour Guide



Updates and Corrections

Please send change requests to changerequest@pocketsights.com.