Henry Moore is one of the most influential public sculptors of the last century. He closely studied Classical, pre-Columbian and African art, and did many significant drawings as part of the creative process while creating original and truly modern sculptural forms inspired by previous art and natural forms. But his drawings were not just studies, Moore regarded them as significant works their own right. Abstractions of organic shapes were his primary motif. His seated, standing, and reclining figures comprise an enduring vocabulary reflecting the universality of the human condition.
Moore said: "The observation of nature is part of an artist's life, it enlarges his form [and] knowledge, keeps him fresh and from working only by formula, and feeds inspiration. In my opinion, everything, every shape, every bit of natural form, animals, people, pebbles, shells, anything you like are all things that can help you to make a sculpture." As quoted in Five British Sculptors (Work and Talk) by Warren Forma, 1964.
Moore was given his first major retrospective abroad by the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1946. He won the International Prize for Sculpture at the Venice Biennale of 1948. He executed several important public commissions in the 1950s, among them Reclining Figure, 1956–58, for the UNESCO Building in Paris. He was awarded the British Order of Merit in 1963 and in 1978 an exhibition of his work organized by the Arts Council of Great Britain was held at the Serpentine in London, at which time he gave many of his sculptures to the Tate Gallery, London.