Presawing Pope Leo the Great

Pope Leo the Great upper body

Another saint's statue

stained glass window of Pope Gregory

Pope Gregory looked suspiciously like Pope Leo

stained glass window with inscription Gregor . Magn.

But the name of this pope is at the bottom of the window: Gregorius Magnificus

As you might remember I copied the statue of Thomas Aquinas for St. John's Cathedral earlier this year. That statue has now been installed and I could move right on to the next one: Pope Leo the Great. It's a one hundred year old statue of a bearded man with a tiara, a book and a Byzantine cross. At first I thought it represented Pope Gregory the Great in stone, because the stained glass window behind the statue shows a similar Pope: also with a book and a Byzantine cross and tiara, but without a beard and with a dove.

Attila the Hun

Cracks in the face of the statue of Pope Leo

weathering traces in the face

But it turned out that I was mistaken after all, partly because the console of this statue shows Attila the Hun crouching. In the year 452 the Hun Army was camped near Lake Garda, with plans to attack Rome, but Pope Leo visited him and talked it out of his head. Talk about power of persuasion. Pope Gregory only came a hundred years later.

Weathering process

robe of the statue of Pope Leo has weathered

disappeared folds in the garment

The two statues of Thomas Aquinas left in a crate headed for Den Bosch, where the new statue was placed on the church and the old statue was put in the museum. By return mail I received the old statue of Pope Leo back. On my scaffolding visit I noticed that the statue still had almost all its details, but the stone wasn't in a very good condition.

Just like Thomas, the statue was made of Udelfanger sandstone. The material has been applied vertically at the time, and that has had an impact on the weathering: vertical traces of watering and the disapperance of a number of folds of his garment. The statue also shows serious exfoliation on the back and if nothing happened now you'd have a chance that in a decade many details will be much stronger affected, which would make it very difficult to make a proper reconstruction of it.

Vertical layering

foot of the statue of Pope Leo the Great

crumbled pleats

As I explained in the first article about the statue of Thomas Aquinas it's not desirable to have the stone's layers run vertically through the statue. But it is not always possible to avoid that. In the quarry, the thickness of the right layer is not more than about 120 centimeters, and the statue is at least 150 cms tall. Over a hundred years ago they picked a horizontal piece of stone for that reason and put it straight up. This is known as standing layering. But this time I need to make a statue, in which the layers run horizontally. That can only happen if I make this statue out of two pieces. A body out of one piece, and a piece with the head and shoulders.

Presawing

presawing the new statue, step 2

presawing the lower part, step 2

I had already had some blocks of stone lying in the yard: a remaining piece of the Thomas torso and the second half of the block from which I've presawn Serge's angel. Those two pieces were not mine, but they belonged to St John's. After consultation it was decided that I could use these two blocks for this statue. I started reconstructing the missing parts with plastiline clay. Next up was the presawing of the lower body, in three steps from coarse to fine. This was followed by the same process for the upper body.

Next step

presawing head of the new statue, step 2

Presawing the shoulders and head, step 2

After this will come the rough carving of the two pieces, at the point where the seam should be. The plan is to follow the lower line of the cross on the chasuble of the pope. It will be a difficult job! I'll keep you informed of the continuation of this interesting challenge.

presawing the new statue, step 3

presawing lower body ready

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

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copy of Thomas Aquinas completed

-Click on the pictures for more details-

the two parts of the sculpture are glued together

7. The parts are glued together

beginning with carving the head

8. starting to carve the face and bird

Thomas in two parts

After long interruptions (carving finials for St. Eusebius's Church and large crockets for the Utrecht Dom Cathedral out of limestone) the statue of Thomas Aquinas is finally finished. In my previous blog posts you can read who this man was and how I reconstructed the sculpture, and how I started the copying of the statue with a lot of sawing.

When I picked up the thread were …Read the whole article…

What will save the Notre Dame? (2)

-read part 1 of this article here-

A very short time frame (2)

So President Macron has announced that the cathedral should be rebuilt in five years. He has appointed a French general to run the whole operation and there has also been announced that there will be a competition for a new spire. I guess it will become something made of steel and glass, with a modern slightly pyramid-like shape… oh wait, where have I seen something like that before?

All very remarkable. A number of well-informed decisions to be taken are pushed through quickly without discussion or consultation, and deploying the military renders the freedom to bypass a lot of rules. For yes, there will be needed a huge flow of materials (for the roof alone, more than 1300 thick straight oak trees are needed, and wherever would you get these from on such short notice? Fortunately …Read the whole article…

Will the computer become the rescue for the Notre Dame? (1)

A disaster with far-reaching consequences

fire Notre Dame

photo by Wandrille de Préville – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

After some time, this will be old news already, but for now, this remains fresh in everyone's memory: a huge fire made the roof of Notre Dame in Paris collapse, on 15 april 2019. During the current restoration a fire broke out somewhere around the base of the spire, which, along with the rest of the roof, burned down and partly fell on the scaffold, and partly on the vault beneath. Part of the ceiling collapsed. All technical terms which I will explain later on. It surprised me how much I was shocked by the first television pictures of the burning cathedral. It is again clear that this is not just any French church somewhere , but an iconic place that belongs to the heritage of the world. Yet it is strange that the fire in this building evokes more emotions than a war or a famine on television. It's ultimately only a material object that was made for mankind. Is the human being then not more important?

A very short time frame (1)

Notre Dame before 2019

Notre Dame before 2019. Photo by Daniel Vorndran / DXR, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

The French president announced Macron …Read the whole article…

Boulder and oak-tree and stone

A stone-tree for the group home

Today in Amersfoort, a new group home for people with a mild intellectual disability was inaugurated. I've lately been involved (pro deo) in a number of things in the new home, including the stone-tree and the boulder in the garden. Read here↑ an earlier post about the boulder.

The stone-tree was a special project for me, because it led me to undertake several things that I do not normally do. It's a long story, so let's start at the beginning!

The mad squire in 1661

boulder and oak- pulling the Amersfoort boulder, on an old print

Each Amersfoort resident knows the story of the mad squire and the Amersfoort boulder. Or, at least, he/she should know it. In short it goes like this: …Read the whole article…

Thomas Aquinas (sandstone) for St. John's Cathedral

The statue of Thomas Aquinas

Thomas Aquinas: Here the statue is still in its niche of St John's Cathedral

St. John's cathedral

The major overhaul of St. John's Cathedral is steadily continuing. Each year or maybe every two years, I'm not quite sure, one bay of the church is restored: 1 buttress and 1 window facade. This year I already did some work on two finial bases, a …Read the whole article…

Two griffins with a large shield

griffins with shield castle entrance plastiline maquetteThe next project has taken a very long time to get properly going. More than a year ago I received this request, and only now there is the peace and time to address this well. It is not a simple little project for doing between other things. …Read the whole article…

Flying Buttress Figurines: four times Noah's Ark

Theo van Reijns theme of Noah's Ark

There are 96 flying buttress figurines on St. Eusebius's Church in Arnhem (the Netherlands), distributed over 14 flying buttresses. Four of these are filled with animal figures on the theme of Noah's Ark, designed by the Haarlem sculptor Theo van Reijn (and for the most part carved by his artisan sculptor Eduard van Kuilenburg). He awarded each of these …Read the whole article…

An interesting gable stone

A plaque in the making for the Blue Tram street in Haarlem

Last week I started on a very interesting challenge: the carving of a new gable stone relief. The project deserves some explanation, because it includes a lot more than just this one relief. …Read the whole article…

Noah and his ark: from tuff to limestone

…to the first post about this project↑

Noah new in MuschelkalkAfter the previous series of flying buttress statues for the Eusebius Church in Arnhem (read here more) it has been quiet at my studio for a long time -with regards to the work on the Eusebius church at least. Funding had been allocated for its restoration, but before it's finally on the bank account of the church, apparently a lot of water first needs to pass under the bridge. But now that all suffering is over with, I can speed along with the work on a series of flying buttresses on the north side of the church. …Read the whole article…