Henry Moore

Reclining Woman

The traditional theme of the reclining nude takes on the quality of landscape here, suggesting the weathered surfaces of mountains and valleys. The choice of stone, whose colour and texture add to the sculpture's aura of timelessness, is explained by the artist: "What I liked about Hornton stone is that when a carving is finished, it does not look like new... Marble is so clean and pure it always looks like new. I didn't want one's sculpture to look as if it had just been made yesterday."

by 1944 –
Victor William (Peter) Watson (1908–1956), London, UK [1]

after 1956/05/03 – 1956/10/17
Norman R. Fowler (d. 1970), Virgin Islands, United States, by inheritance [2]

1956/10/17 –
National Gallery of Canada, purchased from Norman R. Fowler [3]

[1] Peter Watson was a wealthy British art collector and co-founder of theInstitute of Contemporary Arts as well as the literary magazine Horizon. He was acquainted with Henry Moore and most likely acquired the sculpture directly from the artist. In 1944, Reclining Woman is mentioned in Herbert Read's publication as being owned by Watson [Read, Herbert. “Henry Moore. Sculpture and Drawings.” Curt Valentin: New York 1944, pl. 26a and b]. Watson lent the sculpture to various exhibitions in the following years: in 1946 to the Museum of Modern Art, New York [cat no. 11], from Nov.18–Dec. 31, 1949 to the Musée National d'Art Moderne, Paris, (organized by the British Council) [cat. no. 10], from May 2 to July 29, 1951 to the Tate Gallery, London [the work is featured on the catalogue's cover and as cat. no 55]. All publications mention Watson as lender. The sculpture was also on loan to London architect Ernö Goldfinger and his wife Ursula Blackwell. It was on display in their garden at 2 Willow Road, Hampstead, for several years.

[2] After Peter Watson's sudden death on May 3rd 1956 his partner Norman Fowler inherited his entire art collection. Fowler sold most works to North American art museums [letter by Norman Fowler to Alan Jarvis, dated January 1957, Accession records, NGC curatorial file].

[3] The former director of the National Gallery, Alan Jarvis, had already expressed his interest in purchasing the sculpture to Peter Watson in 1955, when the latter was still alive [letter by Alan Jarvis to Norman Fowler, dated July 18, 1956, Accession records NGC curatorial file]. After Watson's death Jarvis approached Norman Fowler regarding of the purchase of the work. The piece officially entered the NGC's collection on October 17, 1956.

(Research request by National Trust, UK)

Reclining Woman
green Hornton stone
59.7 x 92.7 x 41.3 cm
Credit line
Purchased 1956
Accession number