There's no retirement for an artist, it's your way of living so there's no end to it.

- Henry Moore

Exhibition catalogue extracts

by David Mitchinson, former Head of Collections and Exhibitions at The Henry Moore Foundation

'Henry Moore, the seventh of eight children of Raymond Spencer Moore and his wife Mary, was born in Castleford, Yorkshire, on 30 July 1898.' [...]

'During his second year at Castleford there arrived at the school a young art teacher, who would remain Moore’s friend and mentor throughout his formative years.' [...] 'He was determined to sit the examinations for a scholarship to the local art college, but his father, ever a practical man, thought that he should follow an elder sister into the teaching profession.'

The Great War

'Soon it was to be Moore’s turn; he enlisted at the age of eighteen and presently joined the 15th Battalion The London Regiment, known as the Civil Service Rifles.' [...]

'Despite his heavy training schedule, Moore found time to make his first visits to the British Museum and the National Gallery in London. But soon he was sent to France, where he and his regiment participated in what was meant to have been the last great battle of the war, at Cambrai.' [...] 'For Moore, active participation in the war ceased when he was gassed, along with many of his comrades.' [...]

'After convalescence he became a physical training instructor and later returned to France, but by then the war was over. Moore went back to his teaching post in Castleford, but he now knew that teaching in school was not for him. He applied for and received an ex-serviceman’s grant to attend Leeds School of Art. He continued to live in Castleford, travelling to Leeds by train every morning and back at night. There was no sculpture tutor at Leeds, but because Moore insisted that he wanted to study sculpture, one was appointed. At the end of his second year he won a scholarship to the Royal College of Art in London.'

Museuming in London

'Now followed a period of intense activity for Moore, a thirsting for knowledge, an outpouring of ideas, many of them into the pages of the notebooks which have survived to this day.' [...] 'Moore studied the collections in the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Tate Gallery, but his greatest interest lay in the British Museum, where he studied intently the collection of Mexican Aztec sculpture. He called this activity ‘museuming’.' [...]

'In 1928 he met Irina Radetsky, a painting student at the college, whom he married a year later. The couple moved into a house at 11A Parkhill Road, Hampstead, which consisted of a small ground-floor studio with an equally small flat above. This remained their London home for ten years.'

First commission and attacks

'Throughout the decade Moore was involved in the art life of London. His first commission, received in 1928, was to produce a sculpture relief, West Wind, for the newly opened headquarters of London Transport at St James’s Underground. His first one-man exhibition, [...] opened at the Warren Gallery in 1928; it was followed by a second show [...] at the Leicester Galleries in 1931.' [...]

'Not all the response was favourable, however. The art critic of the Morning Post led the opposition with: ‘The cult of ugliness triumphs at the hands of Mr Moore. He shows an utter contempt for the natural beauty of women and children, and in doing so, deprives even stone of its value as a means of aesthetic and emotional expression.' [...]

'At the Royal College these attacks were taken up by Moore’s immediate superior, who wanted him removed to make way for a favourite of his own.' [...] 'Moore decided to move on and declined to renew his contract at the Royal College. He went instead to Chelsea School of Art, where he restarted the sculpture school and then taught for two days a week until 1940.'

The Second War

'In October 1940' [...] 'the Moores relocated to Perry Green, a small hamlet in the county of Hertfordshire situated half-way between London and Cambridge. This was to remain their home for the remainder of their lives, with Moore adding more land and studio buildings to the estate as time moved on.

In the early 1940s the War Artists Advisory Committee under its chairman Kenneth Clark, then director of the National Gallery, London, began to purchase drawings that Moore was making of people sheltering from air raids in the London Underground. These drawings, together with those that Moore made subsequently in the coal mines, are considered among his greatest achievements.' [...]

'Moore’s first retrospective exhibition was held at Temple Newsam, Leeds, in 1941. The same year he received the commission for the Madonna and Child at St Matthew’s Church, Northampton. In 1945 came his first honorary doctorate, from the University of Leeds. His daughter, Mary, was born in 1946, the year of his first foreign retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.'


'Now the abuse which Moore had received in the thirties turned into the praise of the fifties and sixties. Honours, honorary degrees, prizes, commissions and awards were showered upon him. The International Sculpture Prizes at the 24th Venice Biennale in 1948 and at the 2nd São Paulo Bienal in 1953, his appointment as a Companion of Honour in 1955 and to the Order of Merit in 1963, the award of the Erasmus Prize in 1968 and the Goslar Prize in 1975 are just a few from a chronology of over 70 accolades emanating from a dozen countries.

At the same time, the demands for exhibitions of his work continued to increase, both in number and in scale. By the end of the seventies the number of exhibitions had grown to an average of 40 a year, ranging from the very small (a loan of a few graphics to a school or village hall), through dealers’ shows and touring exhibitions organised in more remote corners of the world by the British Council.'

Fourth step to IELTS: Taking the Test

'A few years before his death in 1986 Moore gave the estate at Perry Green, comprising studios, houses and cottages, to the Trustees of the Henry Moore Foundation to administer in perpetuity. The Foundation, established in 1977 ‘to advance the education of the public by the promotion of their appreciation of the fine arts and in particular the works of Henry Moore’, continues to pursue the passionate interests of its founder, who wished to share his love of sculpture with as wide an audience as possible.'