Henry Moore's Reclining Figure Returns

Iconic work of art back at Charing Cross Hospital

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On Sunday morning last a small delegation from the Hammersmith and Fulham Historic Buildings Group along with members of the NHS Trust Arts Committee gathered in front of Charing Cross Hospital to welcome back Henry Moore’s Reclining Figure.

This is the area's most famous piece of public sculpture, which for three years has been away on loan at the Henry Moore Foundation. The professional art movers had expertly hoisted the giant two-part bronze onto its piers by 8.00am and then the Tate Gallery’s conservator, Neil Wressell, got to work giving the lower parts of the sculpture its annual protective coat of wax before the water was once more admitted to the pond.

Finally, in mid-morning the stop-cocks were opened and as the pond refilled the Reclining Figure could once more be seen as Moore intended, set in its own reflection, offering different perspectives from whichever angle it is viewed.

Angela Dixon, Chairman of the Historic Buildings Group, said, “We are delighted the borough’s Henry Moore is back home at Charing Cross Hospital. Henry Moore loaned it to the hospital in 1975 and installed it at his own expense in the water garden outside the main entrance on Fulham Palace Road, a siting he particularly chose. It looks wonderful. Go and have a look!” For the last eighteen months the Group has been making an inventory of sculpture in the Borough, as part of their ongoing recording work on the Borough’s historic assets. John Sheppard, the HBG Committee member who has undertaken the survey, said, “All the time I’ve been doing this research, the Reclining Figure has been away. It’s been like Hamlet without the Prince. It’s so good to have our premier work back.”

This Reclining Figure, 14' long by 9' high, made 1963-5, is a half-size working model of a work commissioned from Moore for the Reflecting Pool of the North Plaza at the Lincoln Centre for the Performing Arts in New York. Of particular interest is its green patination; not, as might be thought, the development of verdigris over forty years, but a deliberate chemical effect achieved during the casting by Noack of Berlin, Moore’s favoured art foundry. Moore made ten variants of his two-piece reclining figure between 1958 and 1970, this is number six.

It was loaned by Moore (1898-1986) to Charing Cross Hospital in 1975 and installed at his expense in the water garden outside the main entrance on Fulham Palace Road, a siting he particularly chose. Subsequently the work was given to the Tate Gallery in 1978, as part of Moore’s substantial bequest to the nation, and they have continued the loan ever since.

March 21, 2006