Sculptural Objects

HENRY MOORE OM CH RA (1898-1986) Biography
SCHOOL PRINTS (1947-1949) Biography
THE BAYNARD PRESS (worked 1894-1960) Biography

Sculptural Objects (England, 1949)

Not for Sale Not for Sale
Lithograph on paper
School Print - Signed and dated 49 lower right

Dimensions

50.00cm high
79.50cm wide
(19.69 inches high)
(31.30 inches wide)
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Description / Expertise

This lithograph was part of the ‘European’ series of school Prints published in 1949. Most of the prints were commissioned by Mrs. Brenda Rawnsley in June 1948 during a week’s whirlwind tour of France by chartered plane. During this visit she secured the participation of Picasso, Leger, Dufy, Braque and Matisse, all of whom agreed to use plastic plates specially developed by W.S Cowell in Ipswich for a payment of £200. Matisse, due to infirmity subsequently decided to submit a papier dechire from which lithographic plates were photographically prepared. As part of the same operation, Henry Moore was one of those invited to execute a lithograph in no more than six colours to be published in an edition of 3000. With regard to subject matter, we should like to put ourselves entirely in your hands and only ask you if you would be good enough to do something suitable for children (letter from Mrs. Rawnsley to Henry Moore, 15 July 1948)
Henry Moore’s initial letter of agreement on 6 July indicated his interest in lithography, which was closely allied to his wartime concentration on drawing:
I’ve only tried my hand at lithography once before- for a poster for the Spanish refugees in 1939 but it wasn’t used, the War came and put such things in the background. But lithography is something I’ve always through might be suitable to my way of working and so recently I’ve said I’ll try to do a lithograph for the V&A’s lithograph exhibition (to be held to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the invention of lithography) and also I’ve said I’ll do one for Miller’s Gallery, Lewes. SO by the time I do one for you School Prints I might know a bit more about the technique.
The process in which Moore was to be initiated by this commission was first announced in the Penrose Annual of 1949 as a way of improving the quality of large-scale lithographic printing. John W. Lewis who was involved in the printing of the European series, proved the following account of the method in A Handbook of Type and Illustration London 1956 p. 57.
Instead of drawing on lithographic stones or plates, the artists drew (the reverse way round) on a transparent sheet of plastic grained like a lithographic plate. The advantages were that any opaque material, chalk, pencil, ink etc. may be used, because the sheets of plastic are not transferred but are used in the same way as a photographic positive would be. That is, placed in a printing-down frame against a lithographic machine plate and then exposed to light. By this means an offset printing plate capable of a hundred thousand run can be produced. Also machine plates can be duplicated from the plastic original without any deterioration in quality. Colour separations are made easier, for the artist can superimpose one sheet on another.
On 22 July Mrs. Rawnsley dispatched to Henry Moore two sheets of plastic, two chalking pencils and a pot of ink for you to doodle with so as to give you some idea of the possibilities and texture of this new plastic material. This produced two trial sheets of sketches, which were proofed by Cowells and subsequently used for a presentation folder for the Press, but never published. On 10 September Moore wrote to her I am working on a batch of drawings one of which will be selected as the model for a School Prints lithograph and suggested that she bring the full sized plastic plates for the print on 21 September. According to a taped account of the whole project made by Mrs. Rawnsley in 1989, Moore was apprehensive about using colour in lithography, and asked to see what the French artists had done first, so that he could get his colours bright enough to compete with them. By the end of February 1949, all the material for Sculptural Objects had been forward to Coewell’s, consisting of six separations (presented by School Prints Ltd to the Tate Archives in 1971), a colour chart, one small plastic plate with the artist’s signature, one small sketch and one full size signed sketch to show what the final lithographs should look like.
Henry Moore went in person to Ipswich on 10 March to supervise the colour proofing and completed series was unveiled to the public at a special exhibition at the firm’s temporary premises at 39 Eaton square on 28 April.
The detailed evidence of Moore’s involvement at every stage of the process was particularly important to Mrs. Rawnsley in the 1960s, when for marketing purposes she was anxious to establish the autolithographic nature of the European series. Moore signed a statement on 1 June 1966 certifying that he drew six individual colour plates on the plastic material for the lithograph Sculptural Objects. The British Council, for whom Moore was to be a major artistic export after the war, purchased a number of copies of Sculptural Objects for distribution abroad, and the success of the collaboration prompted school Prints to commission four more lithographs printed on ‘Plastocowell’.