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Provenance

Maxwell Davidson Gallery, New York
Private Collection, USA (acquired from the above in 1975)
Lillian Heidenberg Fine Art, New York

Private Collection, UK

Exhibitions

Much Hadham, The Henry Moore Foundation, Sheep Field Barn, Henry Moore: War and Utility, 2001–2, cat no.180, illus colour p23,
another cast
London, Waddington Galleries, Henry Moore: Sculpture & Drawings, 6 – 30 September 2006, this cast

Literature

Herbert Read, David Sylvester, Henry Moore Volume 1: Complete Sculpture 1921– 48, Lund Humphries, London, 1988, HM no.264

 

Description

In the mid to late 1940s Moore produced a number of small maquettes in bronze on the subject of the family group. While he had worked on this subjects earlier on, the death of Moore's mother in 1944 and the birth of his only daughter Mary two years later may have contributed to a renewed focus on the theme. The scale and modeling of this bronze is typical of the 1940s family groups and can be considered part of the same body of work. A drawing made in the same year as the bronze, Girl Reading to a Woman and Child AG 46.53, and one from the following year, Girl Reading and Figure Studies AG 47-49.5 (collection Museum of Modern Art, New York), are amongst many depicting the women in Moore's life at work and leisure. The later drawing shows two studies of Moore's baby daughter Mary, his sister, also called Mary, his wife Irina, pet cat and niece Ann reading a book. These intimate drawings are a continuation of Moore's shelter drawings, which often included women stoically knitting or reading whilst sheltering underground from bombs. The inclusion of a book suggests a more contemporary time than is implied by Moore's timeless reclining figures. There is a tenderness to this subject which seems particularly poignant coming so soon after the horrors of war, the simple pleasure of reading offering both the possibility of escape and the promise of regeneration through education.