A unique female head carved in ironstone by Britain’s greatest modern sculptor, Henry Moore, will star in Bonhams’ Modern British Art Sale on November 22. A work from early on in Moore’s career, the seven-inch sculpture has an estimate of £2,200,000–£2,600,000.
Head from 1930, set on a marble base, shows a female head in profile. Its elegant form is carved from ironstone, one of Moore’s favourite materials of this period. Moore’s passion for direct carving is evident together with his desire to allow the natural structures of his materials to dictate his interpretation of human form.
Penny Day, Head of UK and Ireland for Modern British and Irish Art commented: “This exquisite work exemplifies Moore’s ability to surprise and demonstrates a masterly simplification and elegant line. His interest in shape, animals and stone were what he called the ‘vitality of the natural world’. This is an incredibly special and unique piece.”
Mark Hudson, Chief Art Critic of The Independent, writing for Bonhams Magazine observed: “The image of woman in the delicate form of Head (1930) appears more vulnerable and fugitive than in the robust forms of the previous decade. The features appear immersed in some semiconscious state, sleep or rapture, the lips parted, eyes reduced to formalised bulges in the highly polished stone.
“The streamlined, forward-leaning form bears a faint touch of Art Deco and of modernist sculptors who presaged that style, such as Brancusi and Modigliani.” He continued: “Yet, where their forms tend towards rigid symmetry, Moore’s have a marvellous supple irregularity as he yields to the form of the brown ironstone.”
Head has been exhibited at both UK and international galleries and featured in a major show on Henry Moore at London’s Tate Britain in 2010.