Henry Moore’s ‘unique and rare’ sculpture found on family mantelpiece

A ‘unique and rare’ sculpture by pioneering British artist Henry Moore has been discovered after sitting on a family’s mantelpiece for years.

The abstract depiction of two lead figures, called Mother And Child, was authenticated by Dreweatts auctioneers alongside experts from the Henry Moore Foundation, who traced it 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.

Mother and Child (Dreweatts/PA)

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 Henry Moore 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.

Hubert de Cronin Hastings (Family/AP)
Hubert de Cronin Hastings (Family/AP)

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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