Hollywood legend Lauren Bacall’s Henry Moore sculptures up for sale

This 1965 file photo shows actress Lauren Bacall at her home in New York.

This 1965 file photo shows actress Lauren Bacall at her home in New York.

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It was an unlikely friendship - one an Oscar-winning actress from New York and the other a Castleford-born artist 26 years her senior.

But Hollywood icon Lauren Bacall’s bond with sculptor Henry Moore was one she greatly treasured and led to her amassing an impressive collection of his work.

Henry Moore' Henry Moore Mother and Child' - Auction at Bonhams, New York

Henry Moore' Henry Moore Mother and Child' - Auction at Bonhams, New York

Now, almost three months after the actress’s death at the age of 89, three Moore sculptures she once owned are up for sale at actions in London and New York and are expected to fetch nearly £750,000.

Lot 32 in the Modern British and Irish art sale at Christie’s in London on November 19 is Maquette for Curved Mother and Child, valued at £80,000 - £120,000

And over the pond in America on November 4, New York’s Bonhams auctioneers are selling two further Moore sculptures from Bacall’s estate.

The similarly titled Maquette for Mother and Child is expected to sell for between $150,000 and $200,000 and Working Model for Reclining Figure: Bone Skirt is expected to fetch $600,000 to $800,000.

Bacall collected Moore sculptures alongside work by artists such as Picasso, Joan Miro and fellow Yorkshire sculptor Dame Barbara Hepworth, of Wakefield.

But it seems the screen siren held a soft spot for Castleford’s most famous son.

After visiting him at his home in Much Hadham, Hertfordshire, she sent him an appreciative letter in 1976 - now preserved in the Henry Moore archives.

The letter read: “Dear Mr Moore, there is no way possible to articulate my feelings after my visit to Much Hadham. Since then and my return to New York I have thought and thought of that day.

“It was and will be a high point in my life – the realisation of my dream to actually meet you and spend time with you.

“Some say it is dangerous to meet your idols but in your case – and this is true – you were so beyond expectation.”

Auctioneers Bonhams said: “Lauren Bacall became interested in Moore in the 1950s in California.

“Many years later Bacall was encouraged to contact the artist. Moore was delighted to show Bacall his work and the studios. From that point on, any time Bacall was in London she would call on Moore, most often with one of her sons.

“Bacall recalled after buying many maquettes and the large reclining figure: ‘I am surrounded by Henry Moore in my daily life and feel his strength and vitality always’.”

Miss Bacall rose to fame at the age 0f 19 when she starred in the 1944 film To Have and Have Not opposite future husband Humphrey Bogart.

She was 20 when she married Bogart – who was 45 at the time – in 1945. She went on to star alongside him in other 1940s classics including The Big Sleep, Dark Passage and Key Largo.

She later became an award-winning Broadway actress.

Henry Moore, who died in August 1986 at the age of 88, was born in Castleford, the son of a miner. He went to Castleford Grammar School and Leeds College of Art.

Moore’s parents had been against him training as a sculptor, a vocation they considered manual labour with few career prospects.

In 1921, though, Moore won a scholarship to study at the Royal College of Art in London.

Over the years, his sculptures have sold for a total of more than £100m.

For more information visit the auction houses’ websties at http://www.bonhams.com or www.christies.com.

Dalton Philips  Photo:  John Stillwell/PA Wire

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