Biography of Henry Moore

Photo of Henry Moore

Henry Moore was a  twentieth century sculptor famous for his abstract forms.

When and Where was he Born?

30th July 1898. Castleford, Yorkshire, England.

Family Background:

Henry Moore was the seventh child of eight of Raymond Spencer Moore, a coalminer and Mary Baker.


Castleford Grammar School. Leeds School of Art. Royal College of Art, London.

Timeline of Henry Moore:

1910: Moore begins modeling and carving in wood and clay whilst still at Castleford Grammar School to which he had won a scholarship. He is fascinated by the work of Michelangelo who had become a sculptor at the age of eleven and decided to follow in his footsteps. He is taught by his enthusiastic art teacher Alice Gostick, who gave him a rounded education in the arts.

1914: He is asked by the Headmaster to design a Roll of Honour to record the names of all those Castleford boys who were marching off to fight in the First World War.

1915: After passing his Cambridge leaving certificate and a brief period as a student teacher he becomes a full teacher at Castleford Grammar School.

1917: Henry Moore enlistes in the Civil Service Rifles, Fifteenth London Regiment when he turns eighteen. He was soon sent to France, where he is involved in the Battle of Cambrai. He spends two months recovering in hospital after a gas attack. After leaving hospital he becomes a physical training instructor.

1919: After receiving an ex-serviceman’s grant he becomes the first ever student of Sculpture at Leeds School of Art. He still lives in Castleford and takes part in Miss Gostick’s evening classes for pottery. The Vice Chancellor Sir Michael Sadler introduces him to the works of Cezanne, Gauguin and Van Gogh as well as Negro sculpture.

1920: He is influenced by Roger Fry’s book “Vision and Design” which contained, amongst other things, articles on Negro and North American tribal Art. Among the other student’s at Leeds was Barbara Hepworth, also to become a famous sculptor.

1921: He wins a scholarship to the Royal College of Art in London.

1924: Moore leaves the Royal College, and is awarded a traveling scholarship.

1925: He embarks on a six months study trip to Italy to study the old masters and visits Rome, Florence, Venice, Pisa, Sienna and Padua amongst other places. Start of his career as a Sculpture Tutor at the Royal College of Art.

1928: Moore receives his first public commission from Charles Holden for the new London Transport Headquarters at St. James Park Underground Station. The result was the “West Wind” relief in Portland stone. First one man exhibition at the Warren Gallery in London.

1929: He finishes “Reclining Figure” which was the first to indicate his own individual lyrical style. He marries Irina Radetsky, a painting student at the Royal College of Art and they move to live in Hampstead. He becomes friends with other artists such as Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicholson and Naum Gabo.

1930: Moore is elected to the Seven and Five Society.

1931: Second major exhibition at the Leicester Galleries in London.

1932: He becomes Head of the Department of Sculpture at the Chelsea School of Art.

1933: Moore becomes a member of Paul Nash’s Unit One Group. Throughout the 1930’s he had been a regular visitor to Paris and had been heavily influenced by Picasso, Arp and the sculptor Giacometti. He first begins taking part in surrealist activities.

1934: He contributes to the Unit One Exhibition at the Mayor Gallery in London.

1936: The Museum of Modern Art in New York borrows two of Moore’s sculptures including “Two Forms” 1934, in wood for their “Cubism and Abstract Art” exhibition. These were later purchased and became the first major Moore’s in an American collection. He visits Spain with his wife, notably Barcelona and Madrid to study their collections. He signed the manifesto urging the end of the British policy of non-intervention in Spain and attempts to go back to Spain with a group of artists including Auden to fight for the Republican’s in the Spanish Civil War but his request for permission to travel is turned down by the British Government.

Recumbent Figure. 1938. Tate Gallery
Recumbent Figure”. 1938. Tate Gallery

1939: He is staying in his cottage in Kingston in Kent when the Second World War breaks out. His teaching in Chelsea comes to an end when the college is evacuated to Northampton.

1940: Their Hampstead home is damaged by a bomb in the blitz and they decide to move out of London to a farmhouse called Hoglsands in Perry Green in Hertfordshire, which is to become their home for the rest of their lives.

1941: Moore is appointed an Official War Artist by Sir Kenneth Clark, the then Director of the National Gallery. His “Shelter” drawings about groups of people huddled in the London Underground during the bombings becomes world renowned. He holds a retrospective exhibition at Leed’s Temple Newsam house with Graham Sutherland and John Piper.

1942: Moore is appointed to the Art Panel of the Council for the Encouragement of Music and Arts (which was later to become the Arts Council of Great Britain).

1943: He is commissioned by Canon Walter Hussey for a Madonna and Child for St. Matthew’s Church in Northampton. His first one man exhibition abroad is held at the Bucholz Gallery New York.

1945: He is given an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Leeds.

1946: Birth of his first and only child, Mary on 7th March. He travels to New York to visit his traveling retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art.

1948: Moore wins the International Sculpture prize at the Venice Biennale.

1949: He is appointed a Trustee of the Tate Gallery in London.

1953: Henry wins Second Prize at the Sao Paulo Bienale.

1955: He is appointed a Trustee of the National Gallery in London and awarded the Companion of Honour.

1957: He is commissioned to construct his monumental reclining Figure for the UNESCO Building in Paris.

1962: Moore completes the “Knife Edge Two Piece”, which now stands outside the Houses of Parliament in London.

1963: He is awarded the Order of Merit.

1968: He is awarded the Erasmus Prize.

1972: Exhibition of 289 exhibits in Florence at Michelangelo’s Forte di Belvedere. The beginning of the Henry Moore Trust administered by the Tate Gallery.

1976: Registration of the Henry Moore Foundation.

1981: Major exhibition in newly democratic Spain.

1983: Retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

1986: Major exhibition in Hong Kong.

(1987): Henry Moore exhibition in Japan.

When and Where did he Die?

31st August 1986. Much Hadham, Hertforshire, England. No official cause of death was recorded, but he had been seriously ill with arthritis and diabetes.

Age at Death:



1929 to Irina Radetsky, a painting student at the Royal College of Art.

Site of Grave:

Artist’s Corner of the Crypt, St. Paul’s Cathedral, London.

Selected Places of Interest:


Abbot Hall Art Gallerry, Kendal.


Henry Moore Foundation, Hoglsands, Perry Green.


Bolton Art Gallery.


Walker Art Gallery.


Tate Modern.
Grounds opposite the Houses of Parliament.
St. James Park Underground Station, “West Wind” relief in portland stone.
Imperial War Museum.
Kenwood House, Hampstead.


Sainsbury’s Centre for Visual Arts, University of East Anglia, Norwich.


St. Matthew’s Church, Northampton.


Pallant House, Chichester.


University Gallery, Leeds.
City Museum and Art Gallery, Leeds.
Mappin Art Gallery, Sheffield.
Hepworth Art Gallery, Wakefield.


Scottish Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh.

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