Accession Number


Henry Moore

Artist Nationality
British (modern)

Object Creation Date
1927; cast 1949

Medium & Support
bronze with marble base

7 1/2 in x 8 7/8 in x 5 1/4 in (19.05 cm x 22.54 cm x 13.34 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Dr. & Mrs. Marvin E. Klein

Label copy
Reclining Bird uses the forceful image of a bird vigorously resisting being on its back in order to represent the struggle of life and flight. Moore is famous for his interpretation of human bodies, but in this piece, he turns to the form of a bird. "The human figure is what interests me most deeply, but I have found principles of form and rhythm from the study of natural objects," he said. A crucial aspect of that rhythm for Moore is the capturing of an organism’s life-energy; he explained his work by saying that "Force, Power, is made by forms straining or pressing from inside." Through abrupt shifts in planes and boldly abstracted forms, Moore succeeded in imbuing his sculpture with the urgency of life even in the medium of cold, heavy metal.
As part of the so-called St. Ives School, Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth developed unique visual metaphors that combined human and nonhuman associations in their search for an expressive sculptural language.
(A. Dixon, 20th Century Gallery installation, June 1999)

Subject matter
This is one of Moore's early sculptures and shows his interest in the archaic modernism popular at the time. Though he uses casting, early sculptures like Bird reflect the contemporary sculptural debates; the angular lines of Moore's Bird, details like the eyes and smooth surface ally with the aesthetics of direct carving without moving outside the medium of bronze, a modeled medium. However, the subject matter points to the sculptor's interest in weight; the bird is shown here flightless, laying on its back heavily. 

Physical Description
Abstract, planar representation of a bird resting on its back with its wings coming together just below its beak.

Primary Object Classification

Primary Object Type

Additional Object Classification(s)

Collection Area
Modern and Contemporary

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Aves (class)
biomorphic abstraction
modern and contemporary art

4 Related Resources

Visual Forms of the Avant Garde - a survey
(Part of 3 Learning Collections)
Cabinet X: Shelf 3
(Part of: Albertine Monroe-Brown Study-Storage Gallery)
#6 Contemporary Art - Abstract Forms
(Part of 2 Learning Collections)

& Author Notes

All Rights Reserved

On display

UMMA Gallery Location ➜ AMH, 2nd floor ➜ 205 (Albertine Monroe-Brown Study-Storage Gallery) ➜ Cabinet X ➜ Shelf 3