Henry Moore at Hatfield: a Philistine’s review

King and Queen - by Henry Moore

The Henry Moore exhibition at Hatfield House opens on April 23rd and will run throughout the summer months. It is the largest exhibition of Moore’s distinctive work ever shown in a private house. I was involved in organising a preview event for the exhibition recently and as a result was invited to attend. A great day out at Hatfield was made memorable not only by the glorious weather we enjoyed but also by the chance to catch up with many friends from the online world.

I have an uneasy relationship with art. Having never studied the subject nor achieved even the most basic level of competence in any of its disciplines I feel totally unsuitable to provide a review of any sort. It would be rather like asking my wife to provide an analysis of a football match. I can enjoy a painting, a piece of sculpture or a carving for its aesthetic qualities, particularly when it is set in a context with which I have some association: a river scene from old London for example, or a representation of a famous person.

Abstract work on the other hand can leave me baffled and unmoved, with little or no insight into what others are admiring in the same work. It is rather like a colour-blind person who hears others share details of a particular scene and has to accept the vivid descriptions he hears, while experiencing something altogether more plain himself.

Those with an eye for good art will love the Henry Moore exhibition at Hatfield. The pieces are spread through the beautiful grounds, each location selected carefully to match the work. Visitors can view the sculptures from any angle, providing many different perspectives and backdrops to each piece. They will appear distinct against a clear blue sky and different again when the background is a more menacing grey.

For those of us missing the art appreciation gene the exhibition is still worthy of a visit, although some of the more abstract exhibits had me soon focussing on others’ reactions to the work rather than my own. While Moore has a distinctive style the pieces scattered across the grounds of Hatfield House are quite varied. Visitors are encouraged to get close to the sculptures and even touch them, experiencing the many different materials used by Moore to create his work. Even as a philistine I can appreciate this. I hope the pictures below give a little taster of what you can enjoy at Hatfield, regardless of genetic make-up.


Lord Salisbury greets the visitors at Hatfield House

Three Piece Reclining Figure: Draped. By Henry Moore

Reclining Mother and Child by Henry Moore

Hill Arches by Henry Moore

Reclining Connected Forms by Henry Moore

Draped Reclining Figure by Henry Moore

Large Totem Head by Henry Moore

Hatfield House

And once you’re done with Moore, take the chance to visit the spectacular interior of Hatfield House, an excellent example of a home of the English nobility that has survived four eventful centuries. Enjoy wandering through the house and gardens and recognising your setting as the location for many famous films and TV shows (Lara Croft?). In fact, the house is celebrating its 400 year anniversary this year, and many special events are being laid on. Less than 30 minutes on the train from London, Hatfield House is a very easy day trip (or even half-day trip) from the city.

Hatfield House Marble Hall

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2 Responses to “Henry Moore at Hatfield: a Philistine’s review”

  1. Hi Andy,
    I enjoyed your article on the Hatfield/Moore preview. Great photos. Didn’t realise the house was the setting for Laura Croft!!! I am so going to have to go back :)
    I also wrote a piece, albeit a bit longer than yours :)
    Hope you enjoy it: http://notjustagranny.wordpress.com/2011/04/19/finding-out-more-about-moore-and-hatfield-house-moorehatfield/

    April 24, 2011 at 2:34 pm Reply
  2. I just chanced upon your blog — love the name! — and enjoyed the post on Hatfield House and Henry Moore. Having lived in London for four years a while back, I loved the myriad of great daytrips I could easily take. I’m sorry I missed this one — especially now that I know Lara Croft was swinging from the rafters of that glorious old pile (gorgeous floor, btw, straight out of a Vermeer). Next time — and if I’m lucky the Henry Moores will still be on the grounds. They look wonderfully at home.

    April 25, 2011 at 10:58 pm Reply

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