flying buttress figurines Eusebius's Church in Arnhem: an Old Woman with a mortar

Lady with pestle and mortar, copy of flying buttress figurine
The following flying buttress figurine carved for St. Eusebius' church was a somewhat strange lady with a mortar and pestle. She was built like an older woman, but with the head of a young girl. She missed a hand and never had feet. That the head did not fit very well was because it most likely was added by another sculptor in a later repair. And there was also something strange going on with her right shoulder. Apparently something went wrong during carving and the sculptor had to adapt it so that one shoulder ended up being five centimeters lower. That's a lot for a statuette of 90 centimeters tall! All in all it looks somewhat okay now in the old figurine, but if I would literally copy it like that, it would just look awkward. Some things are simply not directly transferable; the copy would miss a part of the story of the stone and then it results in a weird sculpture. That's why I changed the statue, and when I was at it, I have given her some clogs as well. It looks like the sculptor found the feet ugly and then just chopped them off altogether. Finally, the right hand with the pestle had broken off. I reinstated it back in order.

Meaning

While carving I wondered what Theo van Reijn had meant by this statue. The theme of these four flying buttresses is Noah's ark, which was full of animals. But what then about this lady? Perhaps Van Reijn was thinking that Noah took his mother-in-law on this journey as well. I was in a dilemma: it was a statue with sagging breasts and the head of a young girl. Would I have to show an old lady or, like the bull of Paulus Potter display a hodgepodge of young and old? Because the head was carved quite expertly, and much better than the rest of the statue but clearly added later, I decided to keep the body as indicative. The lady had a sagging bosom, that really does not suit a young girl. That's why I changed the head to the age of the body.

With this, the story gets a somewhat different meaning: someone who cooks for the crew of the ship, and not every being present on board was fertile and suitable for reproduction after the disaster. Perhaps in our time, with all the emphasis on youth, a good indication of the value of maturity.

tuff statuette of an old lady with a mortar

the old statuette had no feet and the head was a later repair

Muschelkalksteen copy of an statuette of an old lady with a mortar

In the copy I added a hand and clogs

There was little correlation between the shoulders and the head

copy in tufa, halfway. Old lady with mortar.

Copy, halfway. During presawing I put some extra material on the shoulders

Original flying buttress tuff statue of lady with mortar

The right shoulder was five centimeters lower than the left

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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