Flying buttress figurine: Caritas, love

copying the flying buttress statue Caritas for the Eusebius Church in Arnhem

the figurine Caritas during copying

Caritas under pressure

Gloomy clouds gather around Arnhem's Eusebius Church. After years of smooth and energetic restoration, the first restoration budget has come to its end. In a previous message from 2016 I could report that money had finally been released, and although the subsidies have been handled very efficiently, at that time it was already known that it would not be enough to complete the entire project. There is a lot of fuss in the media about it, and immediately there are also people who claim that the entire project would be a bottomless pit, but they talk like a headless chicken.

A top-class restoration

For this budget, the Eusebius Church, at less than one-third of the amount previously estimated, is being thoroughly restored and also adapted to contemporary requirements. The time of mass church attendance is simply behind us, and the church is now mainly used for other purposes. In addition, this is a top-class restoration, which can be seen by everyone who gets the chance to wander through the building and over the scaffolding. Certainly not a bottomless pit, butan examplary project. It would be foolish to stop now, just when we are nearing the finish line and have stayed within budget despite extensions to the original restoration approach. So I look forward with confidence to the next round of investment in this important building.

In the Gelderlander of 6 October 2020 the following article could be read:

Restoration Eusebiuskerk stopped again; shortage of 3 million euros

scaffolding visit Eusebius flying buttresses

The scaffolding around the tower of the Eusebius Church in 2016

ARNHEM – The restoration of the Eusebius Church in Arnhem has been halted again due to lack of money. In 2016 the work has also been stopped once, because there were no subsidies from the various governments.

There is still approximately missing 3 million euros for the completion of the last phase of the large-scale restoration project on this national monument. The hope is that the province of Gelderland will help financially in the short term.

This provincial support had already been counted on, but due to various circumstances it has not yet been granted.

Within the budget

The money is needed for the repairs to the choir part of the building. That is the part on the east side of the church, opposite the 'Duivelshuis' the Devil's House. The total restoration project for the Eusebius Church in 2013 was budgeted at approx 32,5 million euros. The total project remains within budget.

The Provincial Executive of Gelderland recently proposed to the Provincial Council to make a maximum subsidy available of 2,5 million euros to the Eusebius Arnhem Foundation, which is responsible for the preservation and operation of this house of God.

But it is not until November that the Provincial Council will decide whether to agree to this during the discussion of the budget for next year.

-Read the whole article here ↑-

Two more articles: the first about the mystery of the budget deficit ↑ and the second on the period of waiting for more money↑.

The tenor of these two articles is the same: lots of alarm and drama, while there is actually not much going on. An awful lot has been done with the available money and the restoration will also be completed with the same care.

Consequences for the sculptors?

Copy flying buttress figurine de Hoop (Spes)

copying flying buttress statue The Hope at 35 degrees Celsius

Actually, this does and doesn't have consequences for us. On the one hand, we just keep doing our thing and we still squeeze out one flying buttress figurine after another. On the other hand, the budget has also been temporarily suspended for us. Why then do we just continue with those statues, you may ask? This has everything to do with a period of relative calm before a great hustle and bustle.

Lots of work to come

The old flying buttress statue The Hope made of tuff stone

The old flying buttress statue of The Hope, out of tuff stone

I can't say everything about it yet, but in spite of the apparent calm on this blog, Jelle and I in particular have been extremely busy recently. That is the reason that I couldn't keep up with writing blog articles. Indeed, I recently completed a flying buttress sculpture that depicted The Hope, from the series of the Seven Virtues, and I simply forgot to take pictures of it! Well, then it is therefore not possible to write an article about it anymore. But it is not forgotten, I will take pictures of it later at the Eusebius Church, where the figurine is stored.

A very busy autumn and winter

Things will get even crazier in the coming months, because we are currently already working on large finials for the Utrecht Dom Tower, and another major project is coming up in Veghel, I still have to tackle a number of smaller projects, my mother eagerly awaits my father's tombstone, and there are still a great number of ornaments and sculptures coming which I cannot name yet.

Seven Virtues

sculptor Stide Vos with tattered old flying buttress figurine Fides

Stide at the old flying buttress statue of Fides. This statue clearly shows why we cut these copies: they are completely full of cracks.

But around the summer period we had a somewhat quiet time. But we have not been idle! Like with the flying buttress of the Seven Sins that we had last year, there was now the flying buttress next to it, with the Seven Virtues. Jelle and I have almost finished all of them, except the statue of Faith, that Stide is now working on.

We thought it would be smart to tackle the next flying buttress now, because we already knew there was so much work to be done later. However, they were not waiting for that at the Eusebius Church. This flying buttress is actually part of the next restoration phase and they hadn't even started on that yet. Plus that the budget was starting to run out. But with some deliberation we could move forward. If we had postponed it, it would have become much, much busier next spring!

Two griffins

modeling in clay of griffin shield

Modeling the shield for the two griffins

When some space came up this summer, Jelle and I immediately seized the opportunity to finally decisively to continue with the modeling work On the two mirrored griffins, on which I already started in 2017 with a scale model. The work is in no hurry because the castle is not ready yet, but now we have been hard at work. Soon I'll post an extensive report. In any case, we made full-size clay models and cast them in plaster. On Instagram you get to see something of these activities.

Caritas, love

copy of Caritas flying buttress statueOne of the figurines I copied for arch no. 23 is Caritas, the symbol of Love. Quite appropriate for this time in the restoration of the Eusebius Church, Caritas also means Charity and Generosity.

Sculptor Eduard van Kuilenburg has carved Caritas from tuff as a young woman in a thick dress, holding a somewhat listless child in strange proportions on her lap. It has a rather small head and very broad shoulders.

completed Caritas figurineIn the copy I made a few minor adjustments to Caritas, so that the child has a bit more of a child's head. I also made the heart that was on the right side, from a flat object into a rounded shaped, pumped up heart, because luckily I had more mass in the stone at that point. It is characteristic of our approach: we largely stick to the original sculpture, in finish, dimensions and details, but we try to give some points a little more tension, which makes the figurinea bit more expressive. We also carve, just as we did with the Seven Sins, the Latin name of each virtue in the side profile. See more about this in the post about the previous flying buttress statue from this series: Temperantia.

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Three flying buttresses finished- a retrospect

flying buttresses with the apostles and musiciansMy colleague Jelle Steendam recently forwarded a number of photos. In the meantime we'd already completed quite a number of flying buttress figurines again, and usually we would be going to St. Eusebius's Church in Arnhem (the Netherlands) again to match up the carved pieces on site for a good connection. That work is also called according originally, but as this time Stide and Jelle had carved the top two flying buttress statues, they were the ones who needed to adjust the flying buttresses to the church. We had already left some leeway because we knew it wasn't going to fit perfectly, but this time it was quite a lot of work. Yet Jelle still managed to find time to take some nice pictures.

Seven sins

flying buttress with the seven sinsThe sculptures of The Seven Sins in the park. But there was not much to be adjusted, so I didn't need to drop by for this. That's why I was happy with Jelle's photos of these flying buttresses, so I can finally see how they look. It's become a very lively, and expressive set! From bottom to top we can see Lust (copy carved by Stide), Avarice (copy by Jelle), the Anger (copy carved by me), Vanity (Jelle), Envy (Stide), Gluttony (Jelle) and Idleness (Koen). They are sitting nicely and varied on the arch and each one has its own attribute, such as the toads at Lust's chest, the money pouch of Avarice, the Knife of Anger, the mirror of Vanity, the snake at the ear of the gossiping Envy and the workhorse of the lazy Idleness.

Six Apostles

flying buttress with the ApostlesThe six Apostles also each had their own attribute: from bottom to top we can see St. Peter with the key (copy by Stide), St. Andrew with St. Andrew's cross (copied by me), St. Paul with a sword (Jelle), St. Thomas with staff and set square (Jelle), St. James the Lesser with a club (Koen) and St. James the Greater with sword and scallop (Koen). At the top, the Divine Lamb holds the cross (copy made by Jelle). You can read more about the theme of these flying buttresses in this blog article↑.

Six musicians

adjusting the fit of the sculpture of Lamb of God from the arch with the apostlesThe last arch visited this day, was the group of musicians from arch no. 16.

From bottom to top we can see the trumpet player (Stide), the flutist (Koen), the lute player (Jelle), the woman with the lyre (Jelle), the violinist (Jelle), the man with the accordion (Koen) and the man listening, with his hand to his ear. Stide had carved this last statue and so he was the one to adjust the connection to the church itself. Read more about these flying buttresses under this link↑.

It should be all over the newspapers

newspaper article in TrouwIn the same period an article appeared in a daily newspaper Trouw about this restoration (click on the image to read it online). The article points out how more and more ecclesiastical buildings are losing their religious function in this day and age and that ever more often a suitable destination needs to be found for them. That also makes it difficult to find sponsors for a very expensive restoration. People no longer have an affinity with the old position and power of the church in society.

Yet people often do still feel connected to the iconic buildings themselves. And the sculptures on them then become the ambassadors of the building. The playful flying buttress sculptures by Van Kuilenburg in particular are the elements that touch the visitors and invite them to get acquainted. In this way, we still have an important function for the city, as sculptors!

Not all the money goes to the sculptors….

Now it appears in the newspaper article as if this restoration costs 32 million euros because there are so many sculptures on the church. That the sculptors use up the lion's share of this restoration. I have to disappoint you, unfortunately that is not the case. There are 96 flying buttress figurines. Make it easy for math and say there are 100 figurines, and add another 100 for the tower. 200 in total. If we would use up say 20 million out of the total restoration sum, that would be 100.000 euros per sculpture? You'll understand that this is not true. That would be very easy money for a few weeks of work.

No, we only use up a fraction of this amount. There are still many other items that are much more expensive, such as windows, roof, floor, and scaffolding. Fortunately, the sculptures are the most prominent part of the church, so in that aspect, we are certainly worth millions.

Update 29-8-2020 : added some finishing touches

Last Tuesday, Jelle and I went back for a day to do some extra accordion work on the underlying profiles. That also gave me the opportunity to take another series of photos of these three arches myself. I added them to the gallery.


on to the next flying buttress figurine→ is the blog of Koen van Velzen, sculptor in stone and bronze. Look up my website as well:

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Flying buttress figurine: Goat nibbling on a crocket

Flying buttress figurine Goat nibbling on a crocket completed 2

 old flying buttress figurine Goat nibbling on a crocket

old statue out of tuffstone

rough carving of Flying buttress figurine Goat nibbling on a crocket

pre-sawn new goat


A goat will eat ANYTHING

halfway carving Flying buttress statue Goat nibbling on a crocket

Just, as I explained earlier this week, we continued with flying buttress figurines of arcs no. 17, 18, 19, 20 and 23. At the top arch 17/18, arc no. 19 and arc no. 20 replacement flying buttress figurines will be installed., but not below them, because in those places some already existing stone ornaments will remain, the so-called side crockets.

Stonemasonry work

These end pieces each have a flat backdrop in addition to the bottom profile, plus a horizontal lintel at the top. But with the installation it turned out that all of the new pieces don't quite fit exactly to the old work. To give the contractor more room to maneuver, I only indicated the top profile of this goat with a marker and left a block that is actually too big.. There is also an extra layer of stone for adjustment space on top. This way the mason can place the block more easily as he'll still have some margin. The consequence though is that I'll have to go there again one day to adjust this part on the spot.


Flying buttress figurine Goat nibbling on a crocket completed 1Flying buttress figurine Goat nibbling on a crocket3

to the next post about flying buttress sculptures → is the blog of Koen van Velzen, sculptor in stone and bronze. Look up my website as well:

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