The elephant skull was given to Moore in 1968 by his friends Julian and Juliette Huxley, who had had it in their garden in Hampstead for many years. Julian Huxley was a well-known biologist, Secretary of the London Zoological Society (1935-42) and the first director-general of UNESCO (1946 -48). He and his wife Juliette, who had trained as a sculptor, knew that Mo ore was interested in natural forms, and especially liked bones for their texture and structural complexity. Mo ore recalled how, shortly after the skull arrived at Perry Green, he began to draw it:
The first day I drew the whole skull to find out its general construction; gradually I became amazed at the complexity of it, and my interest and excitement grew greater each day I worked. By bringing the skull very close to me and drawing various details I found so many contrasts of form and shape that I could begin to see in it great deserts and rocky landscapes, big caves in the sides of hills, great pieces of architecture, columns and dungeons.
BELOW: ELEPHANT SKULL, 1969-1970. Black Etchings. © The Henry Moore Foundation