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A stone sculpture of a figure on a wooden base.

The sculpture shows a horizontal figure in a light gray stone. One end is oval with a flat top which is surmounted by a small protruding oval in the center. The figure extends from close to the top edge of the oval to a thinner section which forms an arch on the bottom edge to a thicker, elongated, gently rounded shape. Along the top of the longer shape starting at the flat oval end are placed two small raised protrusions, an arch with a carved vertical line and large horn shape near the rounded end.

Gallery Text

Moore delighted in surrealism’s exploration of highly suggestive but ambiguous forms, especially with regard to the depiction or evocation of the body. Reclining Figure’s highly abstracted biomorphic shapes read as a rudimentary sign system denoting eyes, mouths, and sexual organs. Moore used abstraction to communicate his bond with the natural world, for which he felt a profound reverence. The reclining figure, a motif that would preoccupy Moore for most of his career, offered him the opportunity to align the human form with the landscape, drawing a direct parallel between anatomy and nature that still appears somewhat strange, entirely in keeping with the surrealist ethos.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Henry Moore, British (Castleford, W. Yorks, U.K. 1898 - 1986 Much Hadham, Herts, U.K.)
Reclining Figure
Work Type
Persistent Link


Level 1, Room 1310, Modern and Contemporary Art, Surrealism
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Physical Descriptions

Hopton wood stone
33 x 10.2 x 96.5 cm (13 x 4 x 38 in.)

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of Lois Orswell
© Henry Moore Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Accession Year
Object Number
Modern and Contemporary Art

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Publication History

  • Marjorie B. Cohn and Sarah Kianovsky, Lois Orswell, David Smith, and Modern Art, exh. cat., Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2002), cat. no. 173, fig. 63, pp. 130-131, 340, 373

Exhibition History

  • 20th Century Abstract Painting and Sculpture, Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence, 04/16/1947 - 05/18/1947
  • A Century of Sculpture, Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence, 03/30/1950 - 05/18/1950
  • Lois Orswell, David Smith, and Modern Art, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 09/21/2002 - 02/16/2003
  • Re-View: European and American Art Since 1900, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 05/03/2011 - 06/01/2013
  • 32Q: 1310 Surrealism, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Verification Level

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