Knife Edge by Henry Moore


Large Standing Figure: Knife Edge, by Henry Moore. Photo: Chris Hawkins


The Knife Edge is a bronze sculpture by the celebrated and prolific English semi-abstract artist Henry Moore. It was cast at the Noack foundry in Berlin and stands close to the top of the hill west of the Royal Observatory. 

Henry Moore personally chose this site, having strong views that sculpture always looks best when placed in a natural landscape. It was temporarily removed in 2007 after 30 years because of fears that it might be stolen but returned in 2011 in time for the London Olympics in 2012.

The statue is typical of his work and is influenced by classical sculpture, prehistoric works, and surrealism, particularly biomorphism. At first glance, it resembles a human torso in the Grecian style but with a much sharper and angular styling. However, with a longer inspection, it can be seen that it is based on a fragment of a bird’s breastbone. This is unusual because Henry Moore generally sculpted reclining figures. 

Although Moore began sculpting directly in stone, he soon moved to bronze, which became the predominant material for his works. Being so exposed to the elements, the bronze on Knife Edge has developed a particularly attractive green patina that complements its surroundings. 

Henry Moore was born in 1898 to a working-class family in Yorkshire. He served in the British army during World War I, being badly injured by poison gas at Cambrai. Moore used his ex-serviceman’s grant to train in art, later becoming an official war artist during World War II. When he died in 1986, he was internationally acclaimed and is still Britain’s most successful sculptor, with sculptures on prominent display in 38 countries worldwide.