Henry Moore and Apple Trees

Friday, 28 September 2018

Sophie Orpen

  • By Sophie Orpen
  • Henry Moore Studios & Gardens
  • Archive Research Coordinator

Not only are the apples an attractive sight (and often a delicious treat), the trees that they grow on were a great source of inspiration for Moore.

In 1979, Moore expressed his fondness for trees:

I have always had a great liking for trees, and for tree trunks in particular. I like the bare trees in winter more perhaps than summer trees in full leaf. The trunks of trees have, for me, a connection with the human body – their limbs branch out like arms and legs from the trunk of a figure. For me, too, trees have a definite affinity with sculpture. The immobility of a tree, rooted in the ground, has the kind of stability that I like in sculpture.

From exhibition catalogue for Henry Moore: Drawings 1969-79

Wildenstein, New York (14 November 1979 – 18 January 1980) pg.18

Trees provide an interesting natural parallel to Moore’s sculpture, and are also the subject of many drawings that Moore produced in the latter part of his career.

The inspiration for some of Moore’s tree drawings can be traced back to photographs in the Henry Moore Archive. Errol Jackson, who worked as Moore’s personal photographer between 1961 and 1986, took many photographs of the trees in the grounds of Moore’s home, Hoglands. Jackson remembered that he thought the bare tree branches looked “interesting and sculptural” and shot them, even though Moore had told him only to take photographs of the roots and trunks. On giving Moore the prints of the branch photographs he recalled that, although initially reluctant about the subject matter, Moore eventually responded by saying “I find them interesting to draw”.

In the winter of 1977-78 Moore made a series of drawings of trees in the orchard of Dane Tree House, HMF 77(27)-HMF 78(8). Six of these formed the basis for etchings, CGM 547-552, which were published in 1980 as a graphic album titled Trees.

Moore’s interest in trees was shared by his wife, Irina, who was a passionate gardener. The area near the house was the most formal part of the Hoglands garden, with carefully trimmed lawns and a few perennials along with bright displays of flowers in the herbaceous borders, which Irina was very proud of. Her skills soon spread to the lower garden, formally an allotment and orchard. In 1960 the Moore’s built an extension that allowed them to have a much better view of their garden – the Large Sitting Room, known by the family as the New Room. Irina was very fond of this room and said of it:

We wanted one large room because most of the other rooms were small. We thought about it a long time before we decided to put it there. Henry and I designed it together and Henry says it’s our biggest success. It is mostly windows and we feel we are living outdoors

From In Irina's Garden, Stephen Spender

1986, Thames and Hudson, pg. 47

From the Large Sitting Room in Hoglands you can see the apple tree that inspired Old Apple Tree in Winter 1977 (HMF 77 (28)) which was later produced as a graphic, Trees V: Spreading Branches1979 (CGM 551) published in the 1980 Trees album.

After Moore’s death, the trustees of the Henry Moore Foundation selected Trees V: Spreading Branches 1979 (CGM 551) to be reproduced in stained glass by Patrick Reyntiens OBE, in partnership with his son, John, as a memorial window in the Parish Church of St Andrew, Much Hadham. The window was dedicated by the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Runcie of Cuddeston, at a special service on 30 July 1995 – what would have been Moore’s 97th birthday.

Comments (0)

All posts are reactively-moderated