The whole zoo in his boat (flying buttress figurine)

Coarse-grained zoo

A whole zoo in a boat. The old tuffstone flying buttress figurine

This week I had an Ark on my hands again. This is the last flying buttress figurine that was designed by Theo van Reijn and probably carved by Eduard van Kuilenburg, in 1953 or ’54. But it's weathered down very much. When it was in my yard, I had to take a good look. I knew it was supposed to be an ark, but I couldn't determine which animals were in it. I thought I saw a donkey, a camel, an elephant, a snake and a crocodile. And Noah of course. I turned out to be off by a mile or so!


Of a camel that turned out to be a stork

ark with a zoo, Presawn in new Muschelkalk limestone

Only when I was about to presaw this sculpture, I took the time to take a closer look. It soon became clear that I was wrong on almost all counts. I had to fix some things, but the donkey turned out to be a giraffe, the camel was actually a Shoebill stork, and the fat crocodile turned into a hippopotamus! That shows how vague everything had become, when even a sculptor standing right over it can't recognize them. In daylight, that is. In the evening, in artificial light coming only from above, the shapes are much clearer.

All aboard!

A whole zoo in a boat. Copying. New and old flying buttress figurine of limestone and tuff

A piece of the beak of the stork was lying loose on the sculpture and had to be glued back on. the rest of the muzzles had to be repaired before I could copy it. The story that's told in this flying buttress sculpture is the moment when the boat was ready and all the animals were about to board. 'Of all the pure animals seven pairs, of the other animals two pairs'. In this sculpture Noah is comforting the elephant and the snake wants to go off on his own again.


a zoo in a boat-copy of the arkInterestingly, the old Ark was left quite rough at the bottom. It may have been the intention of the sculptor, but I think this was one of the first pieces on top of the flying buttress. Perhaps at that time it was still a little bit unclear how the profile would run which the stonemason would add later. Next, the stonemason made the profile to fit on site, and there has never been anyone afterwards who adapted the lower part of the sculpture.

a zoo in a boat-copy of the ark


This time, I decided to make an adjustment: like with the previous ark I put the ship on struts. Normally you would only put the whole zoo inside the ship once it is in port, but Noah had a unique situation: he built the ship on dry land, then it started to rain and the water came to the ship instead of vice versa. To make it clear that the ark, with the whole zoo already in it, is still on the land, I placed the ark on struts again.

The hippo, which I first thought was a big fat crocodile, was carved much clearer and for good measure I put a Big Smile on its snout. After all, he is allowed to ride on the boat!

a zoo in a boat-copy of the ark

Update 16 February 2018

Below are a few photos from my visit to the Eusebius Church on 15 February. is the blog of Koen van Velzen, sculptor in stone and bronze. Look up my website as well:

on to the next flying buttress figurine→

to the series of corbels for the Eusebius Tower→

to a post about all 4 Arks→

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