For Decades, a Small Lead Sculpture Sat on a Family’s Crowded Mantelpiece. Turns Out It Was a Rare Henry Moore

The lead sculpture will highlight a March 16 sale hosted by Dreweatts auctioneers in Newbury, England.

Henry Moore, Mother and Child (c. 1939-40). Courtesy of Dreweatts.

For decades, an oblong lead sculpture sat atop a family’s crowded mantelpiece virtually unnoticed. 

Not anymore. Recently rediscovered, the artwork was made by famed British sculptor Henry Moore, it turns out—and now it’s set to hit the auction block in England. 

Comprising two rounded figures, the six-and-a-half-inch-tall sculpture, titled Mother And Child, is believed to have been crafted around 1939-40 as a preliminary design for one of the artist’s famous stringed sculptures. It will highlight a March 16 sale at Dreweatts auctioneers in Newbury, about 60 miles west of London, where it’s expected to fetch between £30,000 and £50,000 at ($40,000 and $68,000). It does not carry a guarantee.

Sometime after Mother And Child was made, Moore gifted it to Hubert de Cronin Hastings, a long-time editor at The Architectural Review, through an acquaintance at the magazine. It was passed on to the editor’s son John in the 1970s, and lived on the latter Hastings’s mantel until his death, in 2019, according to the auction house.

“The family had always called the sculpture ‘The Henry Moore’ due to family myth and stories told by Hubert de Cronin Hastings,” Dreweatts specialist Francesca Whitham said in an email to Artnet News, adding that an agent who worked with the Hastings first brought the sculpture to her attention. “When it arrived on my desk and I heard the story I knew it was something interesting and definitely worth investigating.”

Henry Moore, Eighteen Ideas For Sculpture (1939). Courtesy of the Henry Moore Archive.

Henry Moore, Eighteen Ideas For Sculpture (1939). Courtesy of the Henry Moore Archive.

She explained that the Henry Moore Foundation authenticated the piece in the fall of last year, and that experts connected it to a 1939 sketch by the artist titled Eighteen Ideas For Sculpture. It’s one of just a couple of dozen surviving lead sculptures made by Moore, who only worked with the material for a brief time in the 1930s. 

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.
  • Access the data behind the headlines with the artnet Price Database.