Rare Henry Moore sculpture found on family fireplace

An unknown sculpture by Henry Moore that could be worth over £50,000 has been found gathering dust on a family’s fireplace.

The “unique and rare” master piece, designed by the pioneering British artist, has been in the family for years, but will now go on sale after finally being discovered.

It is an abstract depiction of two figures, called Mother And Child, and was authenticated by the Dreweatts auctioneers alongside experts from the Henry Moore Foundation, who traced it back to a 1939 sketch.

Dreweatts said the piece was made in 1939-40 and was a gift to the original owner, Hubert de Cronin Hastings, who was editor of The Architectural Review at the time.

Auctioneers valued the sculpture at between £30,000 and £50,000 but said it could fetch significantly more when it goes on sale later this year.

The article was delivered to Mr. de Cronin Hastings through Moore’s friend Jim Richards, who was associate editor of the same publication.

In the 1970s it was passed on to his son, John Hastings, who kept it on his mantel among an eclectic mix of objects until his death in 2019.

Dreweatts scholar Francesca Whitham described the sculpture as “unique and rare”, in part because Moore worked only briefly with lead in the 1930s.

She said: “It has been such a fascinating journey to work with this rare sculpture.

“I was delighted, after several months of delays due to Covid restrictions, to finally receive the letter from the foundation authenticating the play as a genuine Moore.

“Dreweatts is honored to bring this sculpture to market for the very first time, offering the opportunity to purchase a unique and rare sculpture by one of Britain’s most important artists of the 20th century.”

Moore experimented with lead while working with rope and wire to create his famous string sculptures, and Mother And Child is said to have been a preliminary design for a string piece.

The Henry Moore Foundation linked the work to a 1939 sketch by Moore from its archives, titled Eighteen Ideas For Sculpture.

It will be offered in the Dreweatts modern and contemporary art sale on March 16 this year.

Moore was born in Castleford, a mining town in West Yorkshire, in 1898, and after training as a teacher and serving in the British Army, he studied at Leeds School of Art and the Royal College of Art in London. .

He is considered a pioneer of his art and was the first British artist to gain worldwide recognition during his lifetime.

Moore’s sculptures are now seen as symbolic of post-war modernism, and the Henry Moore Foundation credits his work with creating a British sculptural renaissance.

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