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Two Seated Women
$600,000 - 800,000
sold for $615,000
Curt Valentin, New York
Felix Landau Gallery, Los Angeles
Acquired from the above by the family of the present owner in 1961
New York, Buchholz Gallery, Henry Moore, March 6 - 31, 1951, no. 56
San Diego, Art Center in La Jolla; Santa Barbara Museum of Art; Los Angeles Municipal Art Galleries, Barnsdall Park, Henry Moore Exhibition, August 4 - December 1, 1963, no. 41
Santa Barbara, University of California, Art Gallery, 20th Century Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture from Santa Barbara, April 20 - May 14, 1965
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Henry Moore in Southern California, October 2 - November 8, 1973, no. 119
Henry J. Seldis, Henry Moore in America, Los Angeles, 1973, no. 119 (illustrated, p. 257)
Ann Garould, ed., Henry Moore: Complete Drawings 1940-49, vol. 3, London, 2001, no. AG 48.19, p. 282 (illustrated)
“There is a connection between my drawings and my sculpture. Drawing from life keeps one visually fit – perhaps acts like water to a plant – and it lessens the danger of repeating oneself and getting into formula. It enlarges one’s form repertoire, one’s form experience.” - Henry Moore
Executed in 1948, Two Seated Women is a remarkable example of Henry Moore’s impeccable virtuosity as a draughtsman. While Moore is widely celebrated for his sculptural practice, works such as this evidence the significance of drawing as an important and related form of expression within the British artist’s oeuvre. Representing the culmination of the earlier study Three Figures Studies, 1948, this drawing puts forward a highly finished portrait of two seated women – their statuesque faces reminiscent of classical sculpture juxtaposed against the simple chairs in which they are positioned. Two Seated Women epitomizes Moore’s pursuit of seeking physical expression through strength of form rather than expressive gesture. Here, Moore has masterfully modeled the voluminous mass of the statuesque figures on the picture plane through a delicate interplay of green and ochre watercolor and gouache washes and a complex web of pencil, crayon, pen and ink lines and cross-hatching. The resulting image Two Seated Women eloquently demonstrates the extent to which drawing provided Moore with a realm to explore essential questions of volume and form – underlining his belief that the “long and intense study of the human figures is the necessary foundation for a sculptor“ (Henry Moore, quoted in The Drawing of Henry Moore, exh. cat., Tate Gallery, London, 1977, p. 9). Two Seated Women notably found its way from Curt Valentin, one of the most astute modern art dealers in New York and a key force in establishing Moore’s reputation in America, via the prestigious Felix Landau Gallery in Los Angeles to the collection of Betty Sheinbaum – one of the earliest supporters of Moore on the West Coast. Beyond this illustrious provenance, it is testament to the significance of Two Seated Women within Moore’s drawing practice that it was exhibited in some of Moore’s first museum exhibitions in California, including his 1963 show at the pioneering Art Center of La Jolla and the landmark exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1973.
Created during an exceptionally inventive period in Moore’s career, Two Seated Women builds on the technical achievements and central motifs that Moore developed throughout the 1940s and which would bring him worldwide recognition. Moore cultivated his intense preoccupation with drawing was ushered in during the Second World War between 1940 and 1942 when he was commissioned by the British War Arts Advisory Committee to create the now infamous Shelter and Coal-Mine drawings. Even when the constraints of the war subsided, drawing remained a fundamental aspect of Moore’s practice – resulting in the Family Group drawings that he started creating in the mid-1940s. The subject matter of Two Seated Women developed from these depictions of figures engaged in domestic activities and is notably carried out with the same instantly recognizable “sectional line drawing” method that Moore pioneered in this period. This technique saw Moore employ a network of intersecting lines, both within the form and around it, to define the three dimensionality of the figure and project a powerful sense of volume and weight. As is characteristic for drawings from this period, many of which are included in prominent public collections such as the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, or the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, the surface of the figures in Two Seated Women are divided into panels – giving the appearance as if they have “been composed of stones cut into sections and fitted together like a three-dimensional jig-saw puzzle" (Alan G. Wilkinson, The Drawings of Henry Moore, exh. cat., The Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, 1977, p. 128). Though many of Moore’s drawings served as preparatory drawings for sculptures, Two Seated Women resolutely distinguishes itself as a work that is timeless as it is universal.
Two Seated Women
$600,000 - 800,000
sold for $615,000
New York Auction 16 November 2017