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Reclining Mother and Child
Henry Moore
overall 90 × 35.5 × 52 inches
On view at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

Object Details

Accession Number
top of base right rear “Moore 3/7”; side of base right edge “Guss: H. Noack Berlin”
Credit Line
Gift of the T.B. Walker Foundation, 1963

artwork entry Henry Moore, Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, 1998

The reclining human figure was a central theme in the work of the British sculptor Henry Moore, who used abstract forms to create powerful renderings of the human figure throughout his long and venerable career. In his archetypal organic abstraction in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, this fascination with the reclining form is wedded to another of the artist’s frequent themes: the mother enclosing her child in a protective embrace. The swelling volumes of the bronze enclose equally evocative empty spaces, recalling at once both human and geological forms: the sensuous curves of the maternal figure, with its womblike cavity, and an analogous landscape of rocks and caves. The materials of Moore’s sculptures—carvings in wood and stone in his earlier works, metal casts from clay or plaster forms in his later period—are integral to his explorations of subject matter. Here, he carved numerous hatchings and striations into the original plaster before casting it in bronze and gave further detail to the surface in the carefully applied patina.

Jenkins, Janet, ed. Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Minneapolis, MN: Walker Art Center, 1998, no. 19.

© 1998 Walker Art Center

curriculum resource Henry Moore, Reclining Mother and Child (1960-1961) Walker Art Center, 1998

“I want to understand and realize more completely what form and shape are about, and to react to form in life, in the human figure, and in past sculpture.”–Henry Moore

The work of British sculptor Henry Moore is distinctive for its unique way of combining form and subject matter. Reclining Mother and Child incorporates two themes that occur frequently in his work–mother and child and the reclining figure. This abstract sculpture represents the mother enclosing the child in a protective embrace. A solid contour surrounding a hollow area suggests the torso of the reclining woman. Moore often borrowed forms and rhythms from natural objects such as bones and rocks, and the rounded contours of the mother’s figure are reminiscent of a pelvic bone. The head of the stocky child also resembles a section of bone. Although Moore’s sculptures are abstract, they suggest the human figure and convey a deep sense of feeling.

Text for Henry Moore, Reclining Mother and Child (1960-1961), from the curriculum guide The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden: A Garden for All Seasons, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, 1998.

Copyright 1998 Walker Art Center