“At night when I go to sleep… fourteen angels follow after me.” If you were raised Catholic and are over 30, then perhaps you'll remember this prayer before bedtime. This week I too had fourteen angels in the yard, but they did not follow after me. Indeed, I've them packed for shipping. There are seven old angels out of tuff stone and seven copies in new muschelkalk limestone, for flying buttress no. 32 of St. Eusebius's Church in Arnhem.
There are in total 98 flying buttress figurines on the church. They were quite rapidly made in the years after World War II, partly in a rather cubistic Reconstruction Style. Ideally, the church council would rather have retained the original statuettes, but the decline was going so fast that it led to the risk of falling parts.
The Eusebius Church's website says about this:
"All the flying buttress pictures have been taken down a few years ago for safety reasons. These sculptures were all made of Ettringer tuff and can not be reinstated. The flying buttress images are to be copied into muschelkalksteen, wherein the powerful Reconstruction Aera sculptures will be brought back to their original lustre. The statuettes fit into themes such as: Noah's Ark, the Apocalypse, the Apostles, the Vices, Proclamation of the Gospel and the Last Judgement. It is being considered to design a number of completely new statues on the theme of 'Bridge to the Future'.’
89 of the church
After much debate, it is now decided to replace 98 all of them, and the good news is now after much humming and hawing that there is also a budget they asked. Stide and I have now copied 9 of those (Stide 1, I 8; Stide is mainly busy with carving large and small corbels), but it looks like we will be even busier with the other 89!
As I mentioned in the previous message these seven sculptures represent the trumpet angels of the Last Judgment. Fortunately, there is only one that honks… Sculpture no. 7 is the top one of the series, and is partly sunken in the wall surface at the top of the flying buttress. This figurine had a number of deep holes between the wings and therefore was a bit more laborious to carve.
A number of the old figurines has been so severely damaged that it does not fall so much more to reconstruct. Therefore,, just like in the 50s,, some new designs will need to be made. This perhaps around the theme "Bridge to the Future ', as the Eusebius Church website already reports above. I don't know whether it will partly fall to me, though I hope, of course, it will. It is not surprising that new sculpture is made for old churches; any restoration will add something to the history book that such a church forms.
Perhaps you've heard of the examples below?