A member of a distinguished family of Yorkshire artists, Henry Moore rose to become one of the best marine painters of his day. Working in both oil and watercolour, he treated the sea ‘as a subject sufficient in itself, rather than simply the background of a battle, shipwreck, or even landscape’ (Francis John MacLean, Henry Moore RA, 1905, page 2).
Henry Moore was born at 14 Castlegate, York, on 7 March 1831, the tenth of fourteen children of the portrait painter, William Moore, and the second son by his second wife, Sarah Collingham. Four of his brothers were artists: Edwin Moore, William Moore Jr, John Collingham Moore and, most notably, the youngest, Albert Moore, a leading painter of the Aesthetic Movement.
Henry Moore studied under his father before attending York School of Design, from 1851. Two years later, in 1853, he moved to London, where he joined his brother, John, in lodgings near Oxford Street, and began to exhibit at the Royal Academy, even before he entered the Royal Academy Schools at the end of the year. Indeed, while he remained at the RA Schools for only a few months, he continued to exhibit at the RA almost annually.
In 1855, he also began to exhibit at the Society of British Artists, the British Institution and the Portland Gallery. He spent the summers of 1855 and 1856 painting the mountains of Servoz, near Chamonix, and first became known for producing Alpine as well as British landscapes in the Pre-Raphaelite manner.
In 1857, a series of visits to Clovelly on the north Devon coast inspired Moore to turn to marine subjects, and especially panoramic vistas of the open sea, which he believed had not been fully achieved in painting before. In the decade or so following his marriage to Mary Bollans, of York, on 19 July 1860, he divided his time between landscapes and seascapes, and developed a reputation for his precise observation of the atmosphere and form of the sea. However, he gradually modified his style, employing broader handling and bolder colour. The evolution and increased mastery of his work were based on extended experience and careful study, made on board ship as well as from land. He was known to cross England in order to observe a bad storm.
Though elected a member of the Society of British Artists in 1867, Moore resigned eight years later, at the time that he began to devote himself completely to seascapes. He exhibited these at a wider range of metropolitan venues, including the Dudley Gallery, the Grosvenor Gallery (founded in 1877) and the New Gallery (founded in 1888), and in the provinces. Elected to the membership of the Royal Society of Painters in Water-Colours (ARWS 1876, RWS 1880) and the Royal Academy (ARA 1885, RA 1893), he was also awarded the grand prix at the Exposition Universelle, Paris (1889) and, as a result, the Légion d’honneur. In 1887, the Fine Art Society mounted a large solo show of his work, while he was represented alongside his father and brothers in an exhibition devoted to the Moore family of painters in York in 1895.
For much of his career, Moore had lived in Sheffield Terrace, Kensington, and it was there that he and his wife brought up their two daughters, Agnes and Florence, the first of whom became a painter of flowers. However, late in the 1880s, they moved to 39 Maresfield Gardens, Hampstead.
Henry Moore died at the High Cliff Hotel, Margate, on 22 June 1895.
His work is represented in numerous public collections, including the British Museum, Tate and the V&A; and Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum, Manchester Art Gallery and York Art Gallery.
Further reading Campbell Dodgson, rev Mark Pottle, ‘Moore, Henry (1831-1895)’, H C G Matthew and Brian Harrison (eds), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004, vol 38, pages 944-945; Julian Hartnoll (ed), The Moore Family Pictures, York City Art Gallery, 1980; Francis John MacLean, Henry Moore RA, London: The Walter Scott Publishing Co, 1905