I first learned about the sculptor Henry Moore, when I was studying interior design in London in the early 60s. His work and that of Auguste Rodin touched me in a similar way as Schubert’s 8th Symphony had when I was eleven. I could feel these works of art deep inside me, a physical reaction. The experience of created beauty can be life changing.
Imagine my delight when I found out that we would be staying just an hour from Henry Moore’s house and not only could we wander among his sculptures in the extensive grounds, but there was also a Rodin/Moore exhibition there this fall. Even more of his pieces and seven of Rodin’s. My thanks to Jenny at charactersfromthekitchen who wrote about this amazing place in Henry’s Secret Garden.
All photographs are copyright Rod Sprange and may not be reproduced. (HM = Henry Moore, AR = Auguste Rodin)
This very large sculpture is seen first from a distance and graces a hill on the edge of the property. The field below is the sheep field.
I won’t say much about the house – known as Hoglands or the tiny village of Perry Green. Just to say, it is a picturesque little place found along some narrow country roads in Hertfordshire. The house itself is unprepossessing, quite modest, but filled with objects that Henry had collected over the years and which he used for inspiration. Irina was the decorator, and I was surprised at the darkness of the place. Even the paintings they had chosen were mainly dark – although some of this may have been due to Irina’s smoking. However, it was very interesting to see where they had lived and where he had worked.
There is so much to share about this visit I will do it in three posts. This first part will be to give you a sense of the combined Moore/Rodin exhibition. Then a study of the Rodin exhibits and finally a photo essay of Henry Moore’s pieces.
This powerful figure by Rodin stands erect in the back garden. Irina was the designer of the gardens. The gardens seemed to have been made in anticipation of this Moore/Rodin exhibition.
Mother and child sit together in this quiet area. Approach with reverence at this display of love and caring.
Set apart in a small clearing among the trees and bushes is this large piece. I left these visitors in the image to help indicate the scale of the piece. Although many of HM’s pieces are huge, they have a human scale to them. They invite you in to get close and to touch. So much of Moore’s work is about the spaces created between the elements of the piece. Look at how well the shapes of one element complement the others and the pleasing curves made by the spaces. These sculptures change as we move around and in them.
These two pieces balance each other in this large area of lawn. Notice another photographer standing between the two parts of the Double Oval.
HM was influenced by AR, yet their styles were very different. In this combined exhibition of their work it was inspiring to see many of their pieces in juxtaposition. Walking by the Three Piece Sculpture I glimpsed the Burghers of Calais.
Once again I have shown this piece with visitors to give a better sense of scale and setting. The leaves had begun to turn and set off the colours of the Arch.
This giant form stands in the back field beside a pond. To understand the scale notice the small figure walking on the far side of the pond.
Henry Moore sat sketching sheep in this field. It led to an extensive sketchbook of sheep forms and this sculpture. Henry decreed that only sheep, no other animals, should graze in this field. Notice the way the sheep have rubbed against the lower parts of these forms and changed the surface colour and texture. We had to walk through a number of sheep to move through this field.
This is enough for one post. Next time I will focus on the Rodin parts of the exhibition, and show the sculptures from different viewpoints and some close up detailed shots.
If you are England and within reach of Hertfordshire, make sure you take the time to visit Perry Green and experience some of these works in person.
This was definitely a highlight of our visit.