Family Group 1948-49 (LH 269)


height 152cm

The idea for the Family Group began when Moore was approached by Walter Gropius, who was working in England before the War, to make a sculpture for a school in Impington (near Cambridge), which Gropius was designing. As the function of the school was intended to follow the social ideology of Henry Morris, then Director of Education in Cambridgeshire, the school was meant not only to provide facilites for parental involvement with education, but also to become a focus for the community and social life of the surrounding villages. Moore suggested that a family group would be an appropriate subject. Although Moore made a series of drawings and maquettes on the theme, the project was shelved due to lack of funding.

After the War, the Barclay School in Stevenage showed interest in the idea, and Moore agreed to make the sculpture at cost price (ie casting, transport and material charges only) with the understanding that he could make additional casts to dispose of as he wished. The project was supported by the Hertfordshire County Council,which at the time had a scheme for allocating a fraction of 1% of school construction costs to artwork for the site.

The Family Group was to become Moore’s first large bronze (prior to this work he concentrated mainly on carving in wood or stone), and required a full-scale plaster model for casting. This was achieved with the help of Moore’s sculpture assistant, Bernard Meadows. The sculpture was eventually cast in an edition of 4 + 1 in 1949. Singer's foundry in Basingstoke completed the first cast and the other casts were carried out by Rudier foundry in Paris. The first cast was allocated to the Barclay School in Stevenage, the second to the Tate Gallery, the third to the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the fourth to Nelson Rockerfeller (and is now in the collection of the Hakone Open Air Museum in Japan). The remaining cast can be seen in the collection of the Norton Simon Museum in California. A year before his death, Moore had an additional cast made by Singers which is now in the collection of the Henry Moore Foundation.