Update: DECEMBER 2023 – Forum Auctions has sold a newly discovered artwork by British sculptor and painter, Henry Moore (1898-1986). The work, which was purchased in the UK from a charity shop realised £25,000 plus commission.
The discovery of an important Henry Moore drawing purchased in a charity shop two decades ago has excited the Henry Moore Foundation and attracted global interest.
The seller initially believed it to be just a print. The drawing is now set to be auctioned at London’s Forum Auctions, with a high estimate of £30,000 (about $37,000), although the auction house suggests it may achieve much more due to its quality.
The seller discovered the significance of the work during a valuation at the auction house and felt it was a signed drawing with another drawing on the reverse. After two years of research with the Henry Moore Foundation, the work’s authenticity was confirmed, and it will be included in a forthcoming catalogue raisonné.
The drawing features the “Mother and Child Seated” motif, one of Moore’s favourites, and is dated circa 1947–49. The motif appears on both sides of the sheet, adding to its significance. The drawing uses ink, watercolour, and wax crayon, showcasing Moore’s characteristic artistic mix.
Initially renowned as a sculptor, Henry Moore turned to drawing during World War II when he lost his home and studio in a bombing—the war period, along with personal events such as the death of his mother in 1944 and the birth of his only daughter in 1946, fueled Moore’s increased interest in the “Mother and Child” theme.
The historical context and the personal significance of the motif within Moore’s life could add to the drawing’s appeal to art collectors. It’s a beautiful example of how art discoveries can happen in unexpected places, and this drawing’s journey from a thrift store to a prestigious auction is undoubtedly remarkable.
Henry Moore (1898–1986) was a pre-eminent British sculptor and artist widely regarded as one of the most significant figures in modern sculpture. Born on July 30, 1898, in Castleford, West Yorkshire, England, Moore’s artistic career spanned several decades and left an enduring impact on the art world.
Moore’s artistic journey began with attending the Leeds School of Art, where he studied from 1919 to 1921, thanks to an ex-serviceman’s grant following his service in World War I. He continued his education at the Royal College of Art in London, establishing himself as a talented and innovative sculptor by the 1930s.
Moore’s work often reflected a fascination with organic forms and the human figure during this period. His sculptures, characterized by abstract and curvilinear shapes, conveyed a deep interest in the relationship between the human form and the natural world. Notable works include “Reclining Figure” and “Mother and Child.”
The outbreak of World War II had a profound impact on Moore’s life and art. His Hampstead home and studio were destroyed in a bombing raid, prompting him to shift his focus to drawing. The war period and personal experiences, such as the death of his mother in 1944 and the birth of his only daughter in 1946, influenced his exploration of the “Mother and Child” theme in both sculpture and drawing.
Moore’s work gained international recognition, and he became one of Europe’s leading sculptors. His public commissions, such as the iconic “Knife Edge Two Piece” (1962–65) in London’s Battersea Park, showcased his ability to integrate sculpture into the urban landscape. He was knighted in 1952 for his services to the arts and received numerous accolades throughout his career.
In addition to his sculptures, Moore was an accomplished draftsman and printmaker. His drawings often explored the same themes in his sculptures, revealing a consistent and cohesive artistic vision. Moore’s influence extended beyond his creations; he played a crucial role in promoting the appreciation of modern sculpture and served as a mentor to younger artists.
Henry Moore passed away on August 31, 1986, leaving behind a rich legacy of groundbreaking sculpture and drawings. His contributions to the world of art continue to be celebrated, and his work can be found in major museums and public spaces around the globe.
The lot will feature in the sale of British art on December 14 at London’s Forum Auctions, bearing a high estimate of £30,000-$37,000)