David Harber’s Noonday Cannon

Charles Edwards-Freshwater (Online Editor)
A stunning work of art that revives the glory of yesteryear

No matter how you look at it, France’s notoriously opulent King Louis XIV was a man of impeccable taste. Responsible for uniting the French aristocracy and transforming the former hunting lodge of Versailles into one of the world’s most splendid palaces, King Louis XIV was a monarch who prided himself on exquisite aesthetics and a firm hand of control – two factors that lead to his long reign to be considered one of the most iconic in French history.

During his time on the throne The Sun King made many stunning alterations and improvements to Versailles, especially the gardens surrounding it. Amongst the blooming flower beds and striking garden landscapes there was a wonderful commission – a Noonday Cannon which was set off at noon every day through the intensity of the sun’s rays magnified through a lens. A feat of engineering and theatrical whimsy, the cannon has now been recreated by celebrated artist David Harber, a man whose talent for sculpture and fine art has become legendary on a worldwide scale.

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An award winning artist whose pieces have become talking points in some of the world’s most exclusive and prestigious addresses, David Harber has become famed for the power of his sculptures to react and engage with the spaces they’re commissioned for, no matter whether that’s luxury developments, beautiful gardens or even hotels. Perhaps what fuels this unique sensitivity he has to the power of his sculptures is that David Harber has had a fascination with celestial movements and instruments since beginning his career by creating fine sundials, something that is arguably deep in his blood as he is a direct descendant of John Blagrave, the Elizabethan mathematician and instrument maker who coincidentally created his marvellous pieces a mere 20 miles from the Oxfordshire workshop where David Harber works on his own to this day.

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The Noonday Cannon, unlike many of David Harber’s other projects however, is more of a direct revival of the original idea rather than one of his own design. Inspired by his fascination with ancient mathematical and scientific principles, David set out to rediscover the technology behind this impressive piece of art that originally was used to signal noon to the gardeners of the palace. Looking towards our forefathers for inspiration, David began work on the miniature bronze cannon by echoing the original design, masterfully commanding the materials to form a piece of exquisite beauty that is difficult not to become instantly enchanted by.

Of course, as with the original design David Harber’s version is so much more than just a thing of beauty.  The cannon has been specifically designed to recreate the theatrical performance of the Versailles version to wonderful effect, and the piece is able to be mounted on a wonderful letter cut marble with a gnomon to help tell the time as well. The magnifying glass of the piece has been painstakingly positioned to exactitude in order to perfectly focus the rays of the noonday sun, and in doing so the heat of the rays result in the cannon setting off at noon everyday when the sun reaches its zenith.

A marvellously theatrical art piece that will add an element of exquisite beauty and style to any garden, David Harber’s Noonday Cannon is a sculpture that brings the magic of another age back into the modern day, reviving and championing a beautiful feat of engineering and mathematics that was once a delight to one of the most discerning men in history.

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Prices for the Noonday Cannon start from £8,520

To make an enquiry, please CLICK HERE


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