Determining the Seven Virtues
We have been commissioned to carve another ten flying buttress figurines for St. Eusebius's Church in Arnhem. The first figurines have already been completed, but I'm a little behind on my blog. These are seven statues from arch no. 23: the Seven Virtues. You may remember that a while ago we carved the Seven Sins for this church? This is its sister, and the first statue I carved for this flying buttress was a statue of a woman with a poodle. We were able to determine six of the seven virtues, but this one was rather unclear. There was clearly a statue for Love, Hope and Faith, as could be seen from their attributes of heart, anchor and cross. And a few more were clear. 1. Prudentia (Caution – prudence – wisdom) , woman with book and lantern. 2. Fides (Faith), woman with cross. 3. Spes (Hope), woman with anchor. 4. Caritas (Love – charity), a mother and child. 5. Fortitudo (Courage – strength – tenacity – constancy – focus), a man with a lion.
Confusion is not a virtue
But with the last two, we had a bit more trouble identifying them. There were only a woman with a rooster left and a lady with a dog. We could choose from Iustitia (Justice – righteousness), or Temperantia (Temperance – moderation – self-control). In the end, it seemed to us that a rooster has less self-control than a dog, so this statue became Temperantia and the rooster became Justitia. Perhaps the more scholarly among us will know the answer, that is, if they are more... schooled, I'll say.
In addition, there was also an eighth virtue, to make it nice and confusing. In addition to the woman with the anchor, there was another figurine on sculpture no. 3 , a man clasping his own hands. Would thàt one then be the self-control of Temperantia? We'll leave it like this, and have the discussion become fodder for art historians. That was all we agreed on.
Three more blocks
Then we had three separate flying buttress figurines. Those are: a two-headed eagle (intended for arch no. 17/18, at the top of two flying buttresses with large crockets), a goat eating a crocket (the top piece of arch no. 19, with otherwise only big crockets) and a man with a watering can watering a large crocket (the top piece of arch no. 20, with otherwise only big crockets). The goat is already finished. I thought it would be smarter to finish the top pieces first, so that the contractor can continue to complete these arches while we are still carving the rest.
These sculptures are in bad shape. Sculpture no. 5, Fortitudo, didn't live up to its name. Or maybe I myself was much stronger than I thought. I wanted to rotate the statue a bit on the pallet but I ripped off the whole torso and the other pieces rolled down. It was quite a puzzle to put it back together. I have previously explained why these figurines are so badly cracked, but in short, the impregnation process went wrong, which gave us the wonderful commission to replace all these figurines!
Anyway, the work this time was on Temperantia. Along the tried and tested method, I pre-sawed the sculpture out of the block, and copied it into the new stone along the old example. These figurines also got their name carved in the side profile, just as we did with the Seven Sins. In the near future we will continue with the top figurines of the four arches that we are currently working on, so that those arches can be finished immediately when it suits the contractor. Usually, the bottom and top figurines are placed first, and the intermediate ones are then aligned.