Henry Moore has a number of sculptures which can be seen in London. He is easily is one of Britain’s most celebrated sculptors. His work can be seen all over the World though London holds a particularly significant collection. Henry Moore’s links with the city are deep. He both studied and worked in the city. From Yorkshire originally Henry Moore believed in public art. Certainly he intended to make his work accessible for everyday people.
In particular Henry Moore first studied and would then go on to teach in the Royal College of Art in London. Beginning his studies in 1921 he would stay and met his wife in 1928 whilst teaching there between 1925 and 1932. They were married in 1929. Later he would also teach at the Chelsea School of Art between 1932 and 1939. When war broke out in 1939, Moore was recruited to be a war artist. In particularly he created a number of paintings of people sheltering in the underground during the blitz. Henry Moore would stay in London until September 1940 when his own studio suffered bomb damage. Moving to Perry Green in Hertfordshire, he would stay there for the rest of his life.
His works are now exhibited all across the world. He became one of the most celebrated artists of the twentieth century. Often he would cast multiple versions and editions. Often keeping artists copies of the work, many of which can now be seen on public display. The Henry Moore Foundation specifically was established in 1977 to encourage public access to the visual arts.
Map of Henry Moore Sculptures
List of Henry Moore Sculptures in London
Three Standing Figures (1947) – Battersea Park
The sculpture of Three Standing Figures in Battersea Park was first exhibited as part of the London County Council’s (LCC) first ‘Open Air Exhibition of Sculpture in 1948’. The piece is one which remembers Moore’s shelter drawings during the war. Saying that they were an expression in sculpture of the group feeling he was trying to capture in those drawings. Originally intended afterwards for the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York it was instead donated to the LCC. It ensured that from 1950 the sculpture would be permanently sited in Battersea Park. Moore himself chose the location on a small mound facing the lake at the corner of the sub-tropical garden. In 1988 the sculpture was grade II listed.
Blue Plaque, 11a Parkhill Road
Henry Moore lived at 11a Parkhill Road in London from 1929 to 1940. A blue plaque erected in 2004 commemorates the fact. The time period was critical in Moore’s London life. He married Irina Radetsky in 1929 and this is where they would make their home. Originally working at the Royal College of Art he would then move to the Chelsea School of Art for much of the 30’s. In 1940 following the bombing of the blitz Moore and Radetsky chose to move from London and from their home at Parkhill Road. They would head to Perry Green in Hertfordshire where they would live for the rest of their lives.
Draped Seated Woman – Cabot Square, Canary Wharf
Orignally part of the London County Council Art Patronage Scheme. Draped Seated Woman was meant for the Stifford Estate in Stepney. There it was placed in 1962 and became beloved by the local residents and it became known as Old Flo. The estate itself was demolished in 1997 meaning that Old Flo needed to find another home. She first went to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and then twenty years later in 2017 came back to London. Now she sits back in the East End but on the gleaming Cabot Square in Canary Wharf.
City of London
Mother and Child: Hood (1983) – St Pauls Cathedral
Henry Moore’s Mother and Child: Hood stands in London’s great St Pauls Cathedral. Made out of travertine marble it was placed there in 1983 and forms part of an impressive legacy of contemporary art in the cathedral. The work was only completed three years before his death. The Mother and Child theme is one that Moore returned a number of times in this career. Speaking about the work, Moore said “I can’t get this Madonna and Child out of my mind. It may be my last work, and I want to give it…a religious connotation”.
Alter – St Stephen Walbrook, 39 Walbrook (1972)
The church of St Stephen Walbrook was designed by Christopher Wren in 1672. It was to be his prototype for St Paul’s Cathedral. At the time it was also the first classical dome to be built in England. The church itself was damaged in the Second World War and it’s restoration in 1978 led to the commissioning of an alter from Moore. This work now stands in the church and was carved from Travertine marble. The quarry of the marble is notable as being from the same quarry where Michelangelo sourced his material. It caused hug controversy at the time. Moore’s work was clearly not a traditional alter and people objected. As a result of objections it was taken to the ecclesiastical court. Judges then ruled that the alter by Henry Moore was acceptable as an alter for the Church of England.
Standing Figure: Knife Edge (1976) – Greenwich Park
Standing at the top of Greenwich Park, Henry Moore’s Standing Figure: Knife Edge overlooks the town of Greenwich. Originally standing in the same spot from first being installed 1979 to 2007 when it was removed for a few years for an international tour. Returning in 2012 it coincided with the Olympic Games, the equestrian events of which were actually held in Greenwich Park.
The location in Greenwich Park is actually that same the Henry Moore himself designed it for. It’s return to coincide with the Olympic year was achieved through funding from a number of organisations. This included The Friends of Greenwich Park, The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (Locog) and The Royal Parks.
Moore’s original Large Standing Figure: Knife Edge was formed by using part of a shoulder bone of a bird. Then using modelling clay to shape the statue. Indeed when you look at it, the bone shape becomes clearer. The sculpture itself was cast in two versions of which the Greenwich piece is from the larger, part of an edition of six with one artists copy.
Working Model for Reclining Figure (Lincoln Center) (1963-65) – Charing Cross Hospital, Fulham Palace Road
The working model for a much larger sculpture at the Lincoln Center in New York. It is a piece on long term loan from the Tate Gallery to the Charing Cross Hospital. Water is an important element in both sculptures and both are set within pools. According to Moore “the two pieces represent a human body and a rock rising from water”. The work at the Lincoln Center represented an example of how Henry Moore’s work was being coveted in the states.
Working Model for Reclining Figure (Lincoln Center) was given as part of the Henry Moore gift to London’s Tate Gallery in 1978. It was one of 36 sculptures of works in bronze, marble and bronze that was given to the gallery which marked Moore’s 80th birthday celebrations. An exhibition to showcase the work opened in June 19 with the Working Model for Reclining Figure (Lincoln Center) displayed on the grass outside. Eventually in 1980 as part of a strategy to continue to be able to showcase Moore’s works, the Tate leant the sculpture to Charing Cross Hospital and it has been there ever since.
Two Piece Reclining Figure no. 5 (1963-64) – Hampstead Heath
One of the works donated by Moore to the Tate Gallery in 1978. His Two Piece Reclining Figure no.5 was originally exhibited there prior to being leant to Kenwood House on Hampstead Heath in 1983. There it was installed on a site selected by Moore himself. The strategy by the Tate was to ensure that instead of placing these great works from the gift in storage, the works could still be seen by the public. The sculpture had previously been exhibited in 1966 at the Battersea Park ‘Sculpture in the Open Air’ show.
The Arch (1979-80) – Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park
A six foot Travertine sculpture by Henry Moore stands on the north bank of long water in London’s Hyde Park. It is a work which was presented to the nation by Henry Moore in 1980 with the intention that it would be cited in Kensington Gardens. The gift followed an exhibition in 1978 held at the Serpentine Gallery which celebrated Moore’s 80th birthday. Weighing 37 tonnes the travertine stone used was taken from a quarry in Northern Italy. Over the years since it’s installation the arch has needed to undertake restoration. This took place in 2010 with the work completed in 2012.
Two Piece Reclining Figure no. 3 (1961) – Royal Road, Brandon Estate
Installed on the Brandon Estate in Kennington, Two Piece Reclining Figure No. 3 was purchased by London County Council. It was one of a number of sculptural works acquired as part of their Arts Patronage Scheme. A new estate, one of a number built after the ravages of the war. The environments created were often seen as being new and innovative. Community hubs which moved from the destruction of wartime and the dereliction of a housing stock that had seen much neglect. Art and particularly sculpture was seen as a key element of creating these new communities. Henry Moore’s ‘Draped Seated Woman‘ on another estate in London, the Stifford Estate in Stepney, was also acquired at a similar time.
Two Piece Reclining Figure No.2 was part of a number of similar works by Moore. Within London, two additional ones can be seen. One in the forecourt of the Chelsea School of Art and another in the grounds of Kenwood House on Hampstead Heath. The work on the Brandon Estate however has a much closer connection with the working man and woman. This was a connection that Henry Moore appreciated as he believed that public sculpture should be accessible. In 1989 the sculpture was resited on the estate to make that accessibility easier.
Time Life Screen (1952) – Time Life Building, 153-7 New Bond Street
Incorporated into the architecture of the Time Life Building on New Bond Street. Henry Moore’s sculpture on the facade is a rare example of his work used in this way. A screen, it is part of the building but not fully integrated within it. It meant that he could sculpt both sides. The building itself was significant. The exterior was designed by Michael Rosenauer and meant to be a showcase for British design. Built for the American company Time Life, it was an expression of confidence in post-war Britain. It was also the first major building in London not subject to post-war building restrictions. All these factors helped designate the building as Grade II listed in 1988. The interiors of the building were designed by Hugh Casson the Director of Architecture for the Festival of Britain in 1951.
Locking Piece (1963-64) – Riverside Walk Gardens, Millbank
There are a number of theories for where Moore first gained the idea for Locking Piece which shows to interconnecting pieces sitting on top of each other. The first was through playing with pebbles in a gravel pit. This was near where he lived and worked in Perry Green, Hertfordshire. Whilst playing around with them he found that they could in many ways lock together. The other idea is that the sculpture is based on the concept of interlocking bone fragments lending the piece a more organic quality. Both ideas have their genesis in Moore’s own descriptions of the piece.
Locking Piece was originally first installed as part of the Montreal Expo in 1967. There it was placed in a moat next to the British Pavilion. Returning to London it was installed on the newly designed Riverside Walk in 1968. It had been gifted to the Tate who in turn then loaned it to Westminster City Council. Despite already being in the ownership of the Tate it was then included as part of a wider bequest in 1978 of Moore’s work to the gallery. There were three bronze casts and an artists copy made of the work. The version in Millbank was the artists copy. Other versions of Locking Piece were placed outside the Banque Lambert building in Brussels. Another is kept on a plinth outside the Gemeente Museum in the Hague and a final later produced one is in the collection of the Henry Moore Foundation.
Two Piece Reclining Figure No. 1 (1959) – Chelsea College of Art & Design, Atterbury Street
Two Piece Reclining Figure is the first in a series of two piece female figures. It was acquired by the Chelsea School of Art in 1959. Henry Moore had a long standing connection with the London school. He taught there for a number of years in the 30’s. Moore himself installed the sculpture at the school’s former home on Manresa Road in Chelsea. Since then it has moved a number of times. In 1968 it went to the Tate and then in 1988 to the Royal Academy and in 1996 to the Jeu de Paume in Paris. The school would become the Chelsea College of Art & Design and relocated to Millbank. When this happened the sculpture was moved to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park only returning to London in 2010. It can now be seen in the forecourt of the college. It was grade II listed in 2019.
Knife Edge (1962-64) – Abingdon Street Gardens (College Green), Abingdon Street
Now part of the parliamentary art collection. Knife Edge is striking in terms of it’s location on College Green and proximity to the Houses of Parliament which tower over it. It was a gift to the nation from Moore and the Contemporary Arts Society in 1967 and was grade II listed in 2016. Moore particularly liked the thought that his work would be in such close proximity to Rodin’s ‘Burghers of Calais’ piece which is close by. The sculpture itself was the second of three which were made from the same cast. The first piece was sold to Nelson Rockefeller and now stands in the garden in Kykuit at the Rockefeller family home. The third was erected in Queen Elizabeth Park in Vancouver. A final artists copy was retained and kept by Moore at his home in Perry Green, Hertfordshire.
Knife Edge is a piece of artwork which has recently undergone substantial renovation. For years, despite it’s location, the sculpture was neglected. Graffiti was scrawled into the surface and the lacquer has degraded over time resulting in discoloration. This was partly due to some confusion over who owned and therefore needed to care for it’s upkeep. Eventually the House of Commons took ownership and it was brought into the parliamentary art collection in 2011 and conservation was completed in 2013.
West Wind (1928) – 55 Broadway, St James Park
The first public commission for Henry Moore was on the front of the London Underground headquarters at 55 Broadway. A relief it was carved into portland stone and placed on the facade of the building. Other notable sculptors from the time were also involved. Notably Jacob Epstein and Eric Gill also provided reliefs for the building. It was the architect Charles Holden who had designed the building and who commissioned the works. For Moore it was the influence of some of the carvings he’s seen in the British Museum as a student as well as that of Jacob Epstein. This can be seen in the carving of the bold and powerful figure.
This article on where to find Henry Moore sculptures in London was put together between December 2020 and March 2021. All the sculptures in this post are accessible to the public