A rare Henry Moore Mask sculpture is to lead Bonhams Modern British and Irish Art sale in London next month, with an estimate of £1,000,000 to £1,500,000.
It is the first time that the piece is being offered for sale for more than 80 years, and it has been sold at auction before.
The work is one of 12 known small carvings by Moore titled Mask and, uniquely, is the only one carved from alabaster.
The work was created in 1929 and later acquired by Felix Salmon, whose family were founding members of the catering and hospitality company J Lyons, in the early 1930s.
Bonhams Director of Modern British and Irish Art, Matthew Bradbury, said, “This is arguably the most visually appealing and beautiful from the Mask series that Moore executed between 1924 and 1930.”
He continued, “It shows the deep impact of the 9th-Century Toltec-Maya sculpture, Chac Mool from Yucatan in Mexico, which Moore first saw at the Trocadero Museum in Paris in 1925. Moore was also influenced by the great Romanian-born modernist sculptor Constantin Brancusi with his tenet of ‘truth to materials’, and by Amadeo Modigliani, whom Brancusi had encouraged to take up sculpture. Only four Masks remain in private collections, with others located in Tate, The Henry Moore Foundation and Leeds City Art Gallery.”
Mask was shown at Henry Moore’s first solo exhibition at Leicester Galleries in London in 1931 and has recently has been on loan to Leeds City Art Gallery, not far from Moore’s home town of Castleford.