Working Model for UNESCO Reclining Figure 1957 (LH 415)


length 239cm

Unesco originally asked me for a bronze. I did some drawings with that in mind, but as I thought about it, I realised that since bronze goes dark outdoors, and the sculpture would have as its background a building that is mostly glass, which looks black, the fenestration would have been too much the same tone, and you would have lost the sculpture. So then I worked on the idea of sitting the figure against a background of its own, but then, inside the building you wouldn’t have had a view of the sculpture. Half the views would have been lost. So I finally decided the only solution was to use a light-coloured stone, and I settled on the same stone they’ve used for the top of the building: travertine. It’s a beautiful stone. I’d always wanted to do a large piece in it. At the unveiling it looked too white – all newly carved stone has a white dust on it – but on my last trip to Paris, I went to Unesco, and I saw that it’s weathering nicely. In ten or twenty years’ time, with the washing of the Paris rain, it will be fine. Half of Rome is built of travertine.

Henry Moore quoted in Carlton Lake, Henry Moore’s World, Atlantic Monthly, Boston January 1962