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
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.
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.
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.
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 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
2019 was a great year! I've had all sorts of things in progress, among which a lot of ornaments for the Utrecht Cathedral and the Eusebius Church in Arnhem. Time for an annual review of 2019.
Not everything I've done this year has been published on my blog. For instance, I carved a few things for other sculptors. One was a large sculpture in blue sodalite, of a stylized lady. I copy-sawed the plaster maquette into the new stone and then carved and polished it. This material is difficult to work in, but it has an overwhelming color. I'm sure once installed in the right place, it will make a big impression. Through all those vivid colors it becomes hard to see its shapes in my photo, but upright and under good lighting conditions (not under my roof with subdued light) it will be easier to recognize the shapes. Since it was made for another sculptor, I made no mention on this blog at the time. I did though in a blog post show how I cut the block to size with a chainsaw.
The painting in of the details in the crack
One of those projects for another sculptor was a small job that I did last week for Gerard Overeem in granite: the carving of a crack in a Monument to the Holocaust. The crack represents the suffering caused by the persecution of the Jews that has left its traces. Read here↑ the corresponding newspaper article. In an earlier newspaper article more information about the monument. It is to be unveiled on 27 January 2020 in Barneveld.
The copy of the statue of Thomas Aquinas was a project that almost took this entire year. In November 2018 I received the original sculpture in my yard and started with its reconstruction, in March 2019 I cut the block of Udelfanger sandstone to size and I started presawing. I also started enthusiastically on the rough carving of the two parts and fitting the pieces exactly together, but suddenly all kinds of commissions came and interfered before in October 2019 finally I was able to finish the statue.
Pope Leo the Great
After I had shipped this statue, I could skip ahead to the next statue for St. John's Cathedral in 's-Hertogenbosch: Pope Leo the Great. At the time of writing this, the work on this statue is halted as well because of a trip to India, the above holocaust memorial and a commission for carving a Japanese Lantern. But I was able to presaw the two parts of the statue entirely, so I can expeditiously start carving them in the new year. This statue also stands on the north side of St John's Cathedral in Den Bosch, that is, to the left from the statue of Thomas I mentioned above.
A Japanese lantern
It may seem that I took a long time carving these two statues, but that's nothing compared to the last piece I worked on this year. For the Japanese Garden of Clingendael Estate in The Hague I made a quote in May 2017 already, and only now I get to carve it. I was asked to carve a reconstructed copy of a weathered Japanese lantern out of Bavarian granite. I'm already well on the way, but I still need to carve a lobed base and then sort out the details with the client. A blog post will follow soon!
A marble birdbath
Sometimes you get out-of-the-ordinary commissions. A client had modeled a bird bath in the shape of a duck as a boy and now he wanted it in his garden in marble. Of course that's possible. Unfortunately his clay model had disappeared, so I first had to reconstruct it. Alongside is a picture from halfway through the carving process.
Pan in porphyry… again?
At the end of October I was able to find two days for working on my sculpture of Pan in Red Porphyry. As you can read in my last post about it I had just started with rough carving when I had to put it aside. That was almost two years ago (March 2018).
But I had to put the sculpture aside again quickly this time as well because I had to take on other projects first, such as Pope Leo. Yet I was able to roughly carve the hooves, the face, the hands and the flute. So far, I've been working it for only five days altogether. I hope I can find more time in the coming year and be able to finish the sculpture.
The Eusebius Church contains various sculptural parts. The quality varies from very finely carved to fairly primitive, and dates from the construction time to present day. Somewhere in a side transept of the church, at the very top, missing a small cup of men ↑ in a row of 9 rather primitive homemade heads. Three of those were from the construction period of the church, and three of them dated from the 1960s. I was asked to carve a new head for the empty spot. It only had to look just as primitive as the others. That proved to be quite tricky! Someone told me that you'd best ask for a mason or a beginner to carve it, they might hit upon the right atmosphere. So I just made it into a little man with a page haircut.
More for St. Eusebius's church: Two huge finials
By far the majority of the work of this year was spent on carving ornamental work for two large finials and surrounding ornamental work on the northern transept of the Eusebius Church. Stide, Jelle, and I, partly with support by Serge, had months of work to carve all that.
We carved ornaments in two types of red sandstone for this north aisle, in Udelfanger sandstone and in Massangis limestone. It was so much work that I was in for a joke at the end.
Carving ornaments for the Utrecht Dom Cathedral twice
Admittedly, it was but a small pilot project, and the main work on the Utrecht Dom Tower has yet to arrive. But at a time when the scaffolding around the tower was still not up, Jelle and I scrambled up all 465 steps of the Dom Tower with all our tools on two days, and carved a few test ornaments at the very top, so that the approach of the next part can be determined. Fortunately it was beautiful weather and we had a magnificent view.
But it was not all ornamental carving work, I also had some sculptures in progress. For the west facade of the tower of St. Eusebius's Church I carved the large corbel with the sculpture of The Night out of limestone: a naked lady with a nest of owls beside her. To accelerate the process, I cut it and its counterpart, The Day, on my presawing machine. It only just fitted: I had to cut away some corners, otherwise this lady couldn't even turn around inside the machine.
Flying Buttress Figurines: Seven Sins
It had been very lively last year and the year before especially with carving flying buttress figurines. That was a bit less this year, because the ornaments demanded all of our attention. We only had one flying buttress to go, with the Seven Sins depicted on it. Jelle made the Vanity, the Gluttony and the Greed, Stide got Envy and Lust, and I made the last two.
The Anger was a flying buttress statue of a man with a contorted face pulling a knife. He looked rather primitive, in his bearskin. As the only man among all the women, he actually had not much to complain, but he was clearly not happy with it.
The Idleness on the other hand, ie the Sloth, didn't mind so much. She sat back a little, caressing her workhorse, in her provocative dress, and seemed more concerned with her own laziness.
For the same building I helped making a work of art for its residents: for each resident I made a stainless steel tree leaf with their own rock on it, which were all made into one big tree. It was a lot of work to cut everything out, bending the leaves, welding and glueing them, especially since I'm not equipped too well for metalworking. It was a lot of fun to make. Painter Sandra Nanning turned the staircase into a three-story encompassing tree.
A spoonbill from Haarlem
Not all sculpture to be replaced has suffered from weathering. Sometimes sculpture disappears because of renovations and later on, residents want it back again on their building, and sometimes something is stolen. Such was the case with a buddha's head, a pelican and a spoonbill in Haarlem. Fortunately, the pelican was found again. I made a copy of the spoonbill after first reconstructing it, and Jelle accounted for the buddha head.
A lot of work for my colleagues
As you might have understood, I work regularly with my colleagues Serge van Druten, Stide Vos and Jelle Steendam. They, like me, all three have their own independent businesses. Only Jelle works in my shop; Stide has his own workshop next to me and Serge 20 kilometers away. I like having my colleagues around and being able to share larger contracts.
But I am the only one with his own presawing machine. That means that I regularly get the request to presaw something for the others too. Jelle also can properly handle the machine, so he'll be sawing for me sometimes and mainly for himself. But Jelle and I have also often enough presawn sculptures for Stide and Serge. I also usually keep track of the big picture, the tenders and the distribution of all joint projects, such as Eusebius Church and the Utrecht Cathedral.
Jelle mainly operates under my supervision, but he also takes on his own work (have a look at his website). So I regularly pass on things to him that are too much for me to take on. Sometimes he would take a little longer than I would do, That's because I do this work, of course, for a longer time. Unfortunately we have no specific training for restoration sculpture in Netherlands, so the work itself is his training. This year for example Jelle restored some garden ornaments.
New year: musicians and apostles
What's coming up next year? The most important work coming up is all of the ornamental work that we are going to get from the restoration of the Dom Tower in Utrecht. Balustrade finials, gargoyles and various other ornaments.
Next, we will be getting work from flying buttress no. 14 and 16 of St. Eusebius's Church in Arnhem. Flying buttress no. 14 consists of a group of 7 musicians and no. 16 contains a number of apostles. These are the last sculptures that sculptor Eduard van Kuilenburg made for the church, and in these we can see a transition to a somewhat more angular style. There were at the time of completion (around 1956) already alarmed questions from the church council about the "overcrowded flying buttresses’ that this led to, even though the block size was no larger than that of the previously created sculpture groups around the choir. Especially the apostles have massive fists and lumpy heads. We're looking forward to copying them into new stone (if you want to know why these figuries are replaced: read this article about the Ettringer tuff ↑ of which they were made).
Boxes full of debris and more sculpture to go
So that adds up to fourteen sculptures for flying buttresses nos. 14 and 16, for which we expect to get the new stone blocks in early January. We have been reserving a spot for those. But there are still 12 boxes more in our storage and a group of loose sculptures outside in the yard, which will all have to be copied one day.
Some of these other sculptures are heavily weathered because they started to shatter after the impregnation process and fell to pieces, and they're lying as a layer of debris at the bottom of the boxes. It will still be an interesting project to reconstruct them. If that happens at all, because people are currently considering an alternative way to fill the empty spaces. We sent in our estimate already anyway :).
And then of course there were all kinds of scaffolding visits, visits for quotes and small jobs in between that never get reported: so you might say, it was a busy year. I look forward to the coming year!
I wish you all a very good, educational and creative New Year. Thank you all for following this blog!
Beeldhouwerijblog.nl is the blog of Koen van Velzen, sculptor in stone and bronze. Look up my website as well: beeldhouwerijvanvelzen.nl
The next flying buttress figurine from arc 24 of St. Eusebius's Church in Arnhem wasn't entirely clear to me. We've seen all seven sins pass by, except Sloth, sometimes called idleness, laziness or inertia, so this one had to be it.
I just don't know how the sculptor had originally intended this. I also thought at first that this one was Pride, or Hubris, a lady with voluptuous bosom that sits high on horseback. Or maybe it should depict a donkey?
However it may be, I just copied the sculpture as it was. While working I noticed that not only the breasts threatened to fall overboardfrom her gown, but even the nipples are in focus. "It's must be feeding time again', commented my mate Stide. 'How so??’ I asked.
‘Well,’ he said, 'The piglets are already looking over the trough!’
The old sculpture had a heavily weathered surface, but I noticed something that hinted the sculptor had carved something of a structure and had made the suggestion of a thick woolen dress. I tried to imitate that by first bush hammering, horse and dress and carving short, shallow lines into the dress with a pointed chisel, resulting in a lively surface.
presawing Envy, step 2
In a previous post on this flying buttressI told you about the theme that these sculptures convey: the seven deadly sins. Each figurine we have carved so far (and Jelle has made three out of these seven) has been given a Latin name in the profile on the side: Superbia for Vanity, Gula for Gluttony, Ira for Rage, Avaritia for Greed, This Laziness or Idleness is called Acedia, and then later Stide will be adding Luxuria for Lust and Invidia for Envy. Which are both on their way as well.
A mysogynous sculptor?
presawing Envy- step 3
Some ladies noted that women come down quite badly in this series, because actually only the Fury is a male. This went against their sense of justice and some of them therefore ascribed a very negative view of women to the original sculptor.
But even in the next series, which should represent the seven Virtues, the majority is shown as female as well. The conclusion is clear: Eduard van Kuilenburg,, who carved almost all of the flying buttress figurines in the 1950s , had no trouble with women. On the contrary: he would rather carve images of women than men. That would explain why there are so many women among these sculptures.
The profile leans 5 degrees to the left with respect to the wall face, and 61 degrees downwards
And my colleagues Stide Vos, Serge van Druten and Jelle Steendam were also contributing to this project. I have not seen how these finials are installed now, but I am confident that …Read the whole article… →
After a visit to the Utrecht Dom Tower for a quote, I took the time to shoot a few pictures of our recently completed work on the Dom cathedral. To be precise, the 3 facades of the South Chapel on the Pandhof side.
We're currently carving parts of pinnacles by the cartload. They are all destined for St. Eusebius's Church in Arnhem (the Netherlands). Below are some pictures of work I've made this far. In the picture above you can see a number of blocks ready for transport: successively, an old tuffstone block, a block of red sandstone from my hand, one by Stide and one by Jelle, and finally …Read the whole article… →
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… →