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Henry Moore artwork found in charity shop sells for £25,000

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Henry Moore artwork found in charity shop sells for £25,000

Forum Auctions today sold a recently discovered artwork by one of the most important British artists of the 20th century, the esteemed sculptor and painter, Henry Moore (1898-1986).

The work, which was purchased by a UK private collector, sold for £25,000.

The seller of it bought the drawing for a few pounds in a charity shop 20 years ago. It was originally thought to be just a print by the artist, but when the owner took it to a routine valuation at Forum auctions and it was taken out of its frame, it was found to be an original drawing/watercolour by the famed artist, complete with his signature.

This was later verified by the Henry Moore Foundation, who hold the archive of Moore’s work and are the authority on authenticating his works. The research by the foundation took two years and the results were conclusive. The drawing/watercolour will now be included in the artist’s forthcoming catalogue raisonné (a published catalogue of an artist’s entire portfolio during their lifetime) and is listed in the Henry Moore Foundation’s archives under 2022.15. The work depicts one of Moore’s favourite themes, the subject of mother and child (seated), which can be seen across his oeuvre and was interestingly painted on both sides, which is highly unusual.

Commenting on the sale of the work today, Eleanor Garthwaite specialist at Forum Auctions:

“We are delighted with the result of this newly discovered drawing by one of the most important British artists of the 20th century. Works by Henry Moore are always highly sought-after and this was witnessed today by competitive bidding from around the world. Discoveries such as this are few and far between and it certainly was a special moment when the Henry Moore Foundation finished two years of research to declare that it was indeed an original artwork by the artist. We are thrilled that it will be given its true pride of place with a new owner and in the upcoming catalogue raisonné by the Henry Moore Foundation.”

The drawings on both sides are in Moore’s trademark mixture of inks, watercolour and wax crayon. One side features four bold, highly worked depictions (studies) of Mother and Child Seated and the other is a delicate depiction of a single version of the image in hues of yellow and blue. The drawings were created between 1947 and 1949 and depict the affectionate gestures of a mother with her child from four different angles and poses, with the child moving playfully as Moore captures each perspective. On the reverse is a larger study of the pair portrayed with a muted colour palette of pale green, yellow and a translucent purple wash, with a focus on the main contours of the body and subtle light needed to create their silhouette.

The same sale saw a pen and ink drawing by Lucian Freud (1922-2011) that had been torn to pieces by the artist and restored, sell for £6,930.

The work titled Still Life with Plant was created by the artist in the 1940s and was purchased for £90 by the current owner from the artist’s agent, James Kirkman, a leading dealer, who he did framing work for. A few years later, to fund a holiday, he sold the drawing to Raymond Hall, one of Freud’s closest friends and favourite models, who served as a muse for many of Freud’s masterpieces such as Naked Man with Rat.

However when he got back he was shocked to find an apology letter from Raymond Hall, who described how on showing Freud the drawing he had ripped it up in front of him. The fragments of the drawing were luckily enclosed in the envelope, so he took them to a conservator, who was able to carefully reconstruct the work. The drawing still proved popular at auction and was purchased over its estimated price by a private collector in the UK.

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