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Henry Moore Mother and Child sculpture - estimate £50,000-80,000 at Dreweatts' auction on March 16 (photo: Dreweatts).

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The Berkshire saleroom says: “After two years of working with the Henry Moore Foundation and the family of the owner, former publisher and editor of The Architectural Review magazine, Hubert de Cronin Hastings (1902-86) the sculpture has now been authenticated.”

The foundation was able to link the work to a 1939 sketch of the sculpture by Moore already held in its records, titled Eighteen Ideas for Sculpture.

The sculpture is believed to have been gifted to Hastings directly by Moore, as they met through The Architectural Review, via Moore’s friend Jim Richards, assistant editor of the magazine at the time. He had befriended the artist after writing an article on his work in 1934.

Mother and Child was passed down by Hastings to his son John in the 1970s, remaining on his mantlepiece among an eclectic mixture of objects until he died in 2019.

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Hubert de Cronin Hastings (photo courtesy of Hubert de Cronin Hastings family).

Time of experimentation

The work is cast in lead, which was a material Moore used only for a short period in the 1930s, during a time when he was experimenting with other materials such as string and wire for his series of stringed sculptures. Mother and Child is believed to be a preliminary design for one of these.

The estimate in the Donnington Priory auction is £30,000-50,000.