Working Model for Seated Woman 1980 (LH 433b)


height 79cm

Moore was never afraid to rework successful ideas and this piece is a good example of his reuse of motifs within a particular sculpture. The figure, seated on a solid but low block base for support, has her cloth-bound knees forced upwards by the pose. This harks back to the draped legs of the Northampton Madonna (LH 226), begun in 1943, but the device is traceable to the draperies of the Shelter drawings made in the London Underground system in 1941 and 1942, and even earlier to sketches of the artist’s mother. Moore was clearly fascinated by the tension and mystery suggested by this kind of loose clothing, but here the breasts of the figure are left bare in extension of a large and swollen abdomen, creating a counterpoint of unmistakable fecundity. Their detached uprightness recalls the reclining figures of the early 1930s, and the pinched head of the figure is not unlike the studies for Head of Queen of 1952. The figure as a whole, however, was salvaged from maquettes made for the Unesco commission in 1956.

Michael Phipps, catalogue entry in Six Leading Sculptures and the Human Figure, National Gallery, Athens, Cultural Olympiad 2004, p.440