Interactive Tour of Perry Green

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Henry Moore, Sheep Piece

Sheep Piece in Spring

photo: Jennifer Harwood

1971-72
LH 627
bronze edition of 3 + 1
cast: Morris Singer, Basingstoke
height 570cm
signature: stamped Moore, 0/3
The Henry Moore Foundation: gift of the artist 1977

This work demonstrates Moore’s interest in the relationship between two forms, their closeness creating a sense of tension and intimacy. The sculpture was first displayed in Kensington Gardens for an exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery in 1978, after which Moore sited it in the sheep field where it can still be seen today. It has only once been removed from here, for an exhibition of the sculptor’s depiction of animals that toured Germany in 1997.

In the 1980 publication of his Sheep Sketchbook, Moore describes how his initial perception of the animals which grazed outside his studio as ’rather shapeless balls of wool with a head and four legs’, gave way to an increased understanding of their form as he observed that ’underneath all that wool was a body, which moved in its own way’. The sight of the ewes and lambs together, the larger form protecting the smaller one, evoked one of his favourite themes, that of the mother and child, and he commented that sheep were ’just the right size for the kind of landscape setting that I like for my sculptures’, as opposed to cows or horses whose larger size would reduce the sense of monumentality in his work.

’Perhaps the sheep belong also to the landscape of my boyhood in Yorkshire’ he commented. ’If the farmer didn’t keep his sheep here, I would own some my self, just for the pleasure they give me’.