A sandstone falcon for Valckenier House

old sandstone falcon Valckenier House Franeker

The old falcon arrived very weathered down and in four pieces

Last week I received an old sandstone falcon. This came from the façade tympanum of the Valckenier House Franeker. This house was built in 1662 as a residence for Reverend Valckenier, and therefore it received a Falcon as an identifier.

The Valckenier House has been refurbished and would be put on the market as a retail property. But the municipality put the condition that the falcon was to be put back on the roof. Therefore, the developer, Elizen Vastgoed from Twello, went on a search and found the statue in storage somewhere in Franeker (at retired fellow sculptor Anske de Boer). The old falcon was in pieces and I was asked if I could fix it. My answer was that I could do that, but the stone was so weakened that I could not give a guarantee that the old falcon would not fall down again over time. I therefore proposed to create a reconstructed copy out of the same stone as the original, based on the ancient falcon.

At first I thought it was an odd bird with a somewhat strange head, until I figured out that it, of course, must have worn a falconer's hood. Added to that, the beak of course has completely weathered away. It used to be attached to the gable with an iron pin , and that has been the main cause of the serious damage.

(update: in retrospect it appears I've interpreted this correctly. As stated in the comments below this article, the Falcon occurs in the arms of the Valckenier family. A distant ancestor of John Valckenier was employed by the Duke of Gelre. Due to a sordid case in 1580 he had to spend some time in anonymity under the name of Geelrok, which is why the falcon in the family crest got his cap.)


the Valckenier House Franeker

The iron had started to rust and had split the base by expanding. Add to this the fact that the legs and tail were carved completely free , the salty sea breeze coming from the Wadden Sea, and the hugely acidic droppings from pigeons and seagulls that regularly occupied a vantage point on top of the falcon, then it makes sense that even the durable Bentheimer sandstone gave out in this case.

Next week I'll start restoring the Falcon, in anticipation of the new stone I ordered. I will also reconstruct the missing parts in Plastiline-clay, so I can carve a proper copy.

On the old Falcon I found lots of traces of gilding. Therefore the new Falcon as well will be gold-plated in its entirety.

Update: Putting the falcon together again

Bonding the stainless steel threaded rods in both legs. The pins are up to the chest of the bird.

Bonding the stainless steel threaded rods in both legs. The pins are up to the chest of the bird

The falcon is reconstructed in plasteline.

The falcon is already partly reconstructed in plastiline.

The old falcon was first, put together using two stainless steel threaded rods, epoxy adhesive and restoration mortar. Then I added the missing parts with plastiline clay. This is clay that never hardens. The old falcon had a huge gap between the shoulders, where for centuries the seagull's droppings did their corrosive work. The beak and talons had suffered too, whereas the wings and the rest of the legs were still relatively sharp. So Bentheimer sandstone can remain well over 300 years in good condition! If only not too many seagulls perch on it.

Because of the rusting of the iron support pin, the wing tips and the tail had broken off and disappeared. I added those first in plastiline before I started carving.

→ Read more….

Falcon 2Falcon Valckenier House Franeker old Falcon Valckenier House Franeker old

Beeldhouwerijblog.nl is the blog of Koen van Velzen, sculptor in stone and bronze. Look up my website as well: beeldhouwerijvanvelzen.nl

7 responses to “A sandstone falcon for Valckenier House

  1. Geachte,

    Bijgaand meer info over het pand waar het valkje op heeft gestaan. Wij hebben ergens gelezen dat het geen valckje maar een uiltje moet voorstellen. Of dit klopt is niet helemaal duidelijk.


    J.P. Verhoog

    • Hmm, because the house was built at the time for Professor Valckenier, the idea about that owl seems to me more of a description by someone who has made a guess from a distance. It actually fits less with the name, but on the other hand, the owl was, of course, the animal of Pallas Athena, who declared the animal to be the symbol of wisdom (http://goo.gl/DycTsj). Which of course matches the profession of theologian. Maybe we'll probably never know for certain, but now I can hardly make an owl out of it again…

  2. Paul Valckenier Kips wrote:

    allereerst….wat een prachtig stuk vakwerk! Gewoon van grote klasse.
    Iedereen waant zijn uil een valk te zijn, zo luidt een oud gezegde.
    In dit geval is het écht een uil*! Staat zelfs in onze familie kroniek!
    Prof. dr. Jan (johannes) Valckenier is één van mijn voorouders.
    Hij is in Keulen geboren op 2 nov. 1670, hij was o.m. hoogleraar in de Godsgeleerdheid en de Hebreeuwse taal. Hoogleraar te Franeker van 24 maart 1654 tot 5 juni 1668. Dan vertrekt hij naar Leiden waar zijn studie ook begon. Hij wordt hoogleraar tot zijn dood op 8 dec, 1670. Hij was getrouwd met Hester de Hochepied.
    Hij heeft een graf gekocht in Franekerk, maar is uiteindelijk begraven in de Piterskerk te Leiden. In dat graf, voorzien van de wapens Valckenier en de Hochepied. In ons huis hangen o.m. de portretten van het echtpaar, door Izaak Luttichuys, gesigneerd en gedateerd 1650.

    *lees hieronder voor de correctie: valk

    • Funny… I was asked to bring back the Falcon and have done so obediently . If funds would be raised once again, of course I would like to carve an owl instead. I suppose that it should be a little screech owl in that case. Well this brings one yet another surprise in the restoration business! So basically I have co-operated on the forging of history? I can laugh about it, but if you still want to change this, you have my blessing.

      • Paul Valckenier Kips wrote:

        In my enthusiasm I just made a huge blunder of world class!
        I meant of course a FALCON!
        Jan Gillisz. Valckenier born. in 1522, Envoy of the King of Denmark married in 1550 to Marikken Gansneb called Tengnagel.
        The Valcknier coat-of-arms first consisted of a Falcon on a tree branch. When Jan married with Marikken he added the crescents (moons ) from her crest to his own.
        Around 1580 the Valckeniers lived incognito for some time, hence the hooded FALCON.
        The coat-of-arms can be seen in the Church at Franeker.
        I apologize for the blunder, You have done it not only very nicely but also just right, so not a little screech owl after all…..?

        • Leuk om te lezen, die familiegeschiedenis. Hele oude families allemaal. Wat een opluchting dat het toch goed was! Maar eerlijk gezegd had ik me er ook niet druk over gemaakt als het anders was.

          • ingeborg Landers wrote:

            The hgooded falcon in the arms of the Valckeniers is because the family had to hide under the alias of geelrok while living under the Earl of Gelderland. The cap on the falcon represents incognito. Ingeborg v.d.Wiel/Vackenier the Greeve. Hence it's still in our arms as crest.

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