Tuesday 29th March 2022 - Cara Bentham
Learn more about the unique 'Mother and Child' sculpture which smashed it's estimate.
A Henry Moore sculpture that lay forgotten on a mantlepiece for years has sold at auction this month for £400,000 (including buyers premium). Its owner, who died in 2019, was allegedly unaware that the artwork was genuine and held significant value.
The work, called Mother and Child, fetched thirteen times its estimate of £30,000 to £50,000. This was primarily because the piece is a rare example of a sculpture cast in lead, which the artist only used for a short time back in the 1930s.
At the time that the sculpture was created, Henry Moore experimented with a range of materials, including wire and string. The piece, which sold at auction this month, dates to 1939-40, and it is believed to be an early example of one of Moore's stringed sculptures. It has unusual markings on its front, adding character to the piece.
The famous artist gifted the artwork to Hubert de Cronin Hastings after the pair met through The Architectural Review magazine. Assistant Editor of the publication at the time, Jim Richards, also a friend of Moore's, delivered the piece. Moore had become friends with Richards after he penned an article about his work for the magazine back in 1934.
Later, the sculpture was passed onto Hubert's son, John Hastings, who is said to have acquired the piece sometime in the 1970s. The artwork remained in John's ownership until he passed away in 2019, kept on a mantlepiece alongside an eclectic mix of objects.
It took the auction house two years to authenticate the piece, which they did with the help of the Henry Moore Foundation and the family of the owner. The Henry Moore Foundation was able to link the sculpture to a matching sketch Moore had drawn in 1939, called Eighteen Ideas for Sculpture, which the organisation had in its records. The auction house was delighted when, after many months of delays due to Covid restrictions, they finally received confirmation via letter that the piece was indeed an authentic Henry Moore sculpture.
A specialist at Dreweatts, where the sculpture was sold, said, "We are thrilled with the amazing result achieved for the 'Mother and Child' sculpture by Henry Moore. It shows that rare and unique pieces will always inspire competitive bidding and that the appetite for such works remains strong. The sculpture was enthusiastically contested with bidding both online and on the phones and having been left undiscovered for over 40 years, this very special lead sculpture now heads to a new home with a UK private collector".
Henry Moore, who died in 1986 at the age of 88, is amongst the most celebrated British artists of the twentieth century. His work, which experts say has come to symbolise post-war modernism, has become internationally renowned and is widely agreed to be the most internationally celebrated sculpture of his period.