Warrior with Shield 1953-54 (LH 360)


Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

height 155cm

The idea for The Warrior came to me at the end of 1952 or very early in 1953. It was evolved from a pebble I found on the seashore in the summer of 1952, and which reminded me of the stump of a leg, amputated at the hip. Just as Leonardo says somewhere in his notebooks that a painter can find a battle scene in the lichen marks on a wall, so this gave me the start of The Warrior idea. First I added the body, leg and one arm and it became a wounded warrior, but at first the figure was reclining. A day or two later I added a shield and altered its position and arrangement into a seated figure and so it changed from an inactive pose into a figure which, though wounded, is still defiant... The head has a blunted and bull-like power but also a sort of dumb animal acceptance and forbearance of pain... The figure may be emotionally connected (as one critic has suggested) with one’s feelings and thoughts about England during the crucial and early part of the last war. The position of the shield and its angle gives protection from above. The distance of the shield from the body and the rectangular shape of the space enclosed between the inside surface of the shield and the concave front of the body is important... Except for a short period when I did coal-mining drawings as a war artist, nearly all my figure sculpture and drawings, since being a student, has been of the female, except for the Family Groups, but there the man was part of the group . . . This sculpture is the first single and separate male figure that I have done in sculpture and carrying it out in its final large scale was almost like the discovery of a new subject matter; the bony, edgy, tense forms were a great excitement to make... Like the bronze Draped Reclining Figure of 1952-3 I think The Warrior has some Greek influence, not consciously wished for but perhaps the result of my visit to Athens and other parts of Greece in 1951.

Henry Moore in a letter dated 15 January 1955; quoted in Philip James (ed.), Henry Moore on Sculpture: a Collection of the Sculptor’s Writings and Spoken Words, Macdonald, London 1966, p.250

● In addition to Warrior with Shield several drawings and small sculptures by Henry Moore are in the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery’s collection. Please contact the venue for further information.