Henry Moore's Sheep Sketchbook

Henry Moore's Sheep Sketchbook

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In February 1972 Henry Moore's sculpture studios in the English countryside at Much Hadham were filled with the preparations for his retrospective exhibition at Florence. In search of peace and quiet, he went into a smaller room overlooking the fields where a local farmer grazed his sheep. The sheep came very close to the window, attracting his attention, and he began to draw them. Initially he saw them as nothing more than four-legged balls of wool, but his vision changed as he explored what they were really like - the way they moved, the shape of their bodies under the fleece. They also developed strong human and biblical associations, and the sight of a ewe with her lamb evoked the mother-and-child theme - a large form sheltering a small one - which has been important to Henry Moore in all his work. He drew the sheep again that summer after they were shorn, when he could see the shapes of the bodies which had been covered by wool. Solid in form, sudden and vigorous in movement, Henry Moore's sheep are created through a network of swirling and zigzagging lines in the rapid and (in Moore's hands) sensitive medium of ballpoint pen. The effect is both familiar and monumental; as Lord Clark comments, 'We expect Henry Moore to give a certain nobility to everything he draws; but more surprising is the way in which these drawings express a feeling of real affection for their subject.'

Paperback: 112 pages
Publisher: Thames and Hudson 2003
Dimensions: 25.4 x 1 x 20.3 cm

The Hepworth Wakefield was built in 2011 by David Chipperfield Architects to house the city’s nationally important collection of modern and contemporary British art. The Wakefield Permanent Art Collection consists of more than 5,000 works,  at the core of which is a significant group of works by Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore which celebrate Yorkshire’s heritage as the birthplace of modern British sculpture. Other leading British artists represented in the collection include Eileen Agar, David Bomberg, Roger Fry, Harold Gilman, Ben Nicholson, Patrick Heron, Lucie Rie and William Scott.

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Explore some of the remarkable and diverse highlights of our nationally important collection of modern British art, including key works by Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore.

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