This paper considers the personal and institutional support received by Henry Moore [1898 – 1986] which resulted in the sculptor becoming a successful figurehead for British culture, politics and trade. The network of support for Moore in this country lay in the hands of a few influential individuals. Chief amongst these were Herbert Read and Kenneth Clark. Read influenced perceptions of Moore overwhelmingly through lectures and published texts, whereas Clark acted as a conduit to potential sponsors and patrons aided by his professional roles at the National Gallery, the British Council, the Ministry of Information, the BBC and so on. For Read, Moore was a pioneer of modern sculpture whereas Clark regarded him as a protector of civilised values in a troubled world.
According to the late Margaret McLeod of the British Council it was Clark and Read who suggested that Moore be entered for the 1948 Venice Biennale; the role of the Council in Moore’s life has been somewhat overlooked perhaps because of its relationship with the Foreign Office and thus diplomacy and trade. Nonetheless the Council’s international art exhibitions, continuous contact with leading figures in the art world and the publication of articles devoted to British art were vital to British interests and Moore was a figurehead in this context.