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In February 1972 Henry Moore’s sculpture studios in the English countryside at Much Hadham were filled with the preparations for his retrospective exhibition in Florence. He retreated to a small studio overlooking the fields where a local farmer grazed his sheep. The sheep came very close to the window, attracting his attention, and he began to draw them. Initially he saw them as four-legged balls of wool, but his vision changed as he explored what they were really like – the way they moved, the shape of their bodies under the fleece. They also developed strong human and biblical associations, and the sight of a ewe with her lamb evoked the mother-and-child theme – a large form sheltering a small one – which was important to Henry Moore in all his work. He drew the sheep again that summer after they were shorn, when he could see the shapes of the bodies which had been covered with wool.
Henry Moore originally presented the sketchbook to his daughter Mary. In this facsimile edition, created under Moore’s personal supervision, Mary’s little lambs will charm anyone who sees these tender, vigorous drawings.
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