Henry Moore: Reclining Figure: Arch Leg

Henry Moore made his first reclining figure out of Mansfield stone in the early 1920s. The subject became his most recognisable and iconic, and one that he returned to prolifically throughout his career. Moore spoke about preferring it for practical reasons as, unlike a standing figure, it didn’t have to be self-supporting on two small points, as well as having a lower centre of gravity. It had also been a universal artistic motif since antiquity, and one that Moore considered, “gives the most freedom compositionally and spatially”.

A familiar place where he could experiment and apply evolving ideas, Moore’s recumbent figures reflect many different stages of abstraction, with Reclining Figure Arch Leg being highly abstract and comprising two highly simplified forms to suggest a body. Moore often thought of the human figure in terms of landscape, and the reclining position reflects the horizontal bands of earth, sea and sky. The torso and arched leg of this work could be seen as resembling a sea stack and arch as found around the coast of this country.