Sandstone Sphinxes… or are they Satyrs?

weathered limestone garden ornaments and garlands with sphinxesA thick branch of an oak tree in a big crash wreaked havoc on a garden bench at Castle Twickel. Multiple parts of the bench were broken or damaged, and thus this monumental piece of garden furniture was in great need of a thorough restoration. What makes this garden bench so special is the lead relief on the seat back, with an depiction of dancing nymphs and satyrs. More on this later.

I was asked to replace all parts in Bentheimer sandstone all of them. A very interesting job in which I can bring back the original crispness by carving it out of new material.

I first started on the legs of the bench. The right bench leg has recieved a blow from the tree as well, and that shows in the fresh fracture in the left paw of the Sphinx/satyr and above in the corner. These are limestone garden ornaments, that around the eighties of the 19th century could be ordered from a catalog. Apparently not much has changed then!Fruitguirlande sandstone Twickel

Sometimes it's difficult to define what exactly the depiction looked like in the past. The fruit garland is obvious; I've carved that kind of work before, among other things for the entrance of Castle Huis Bergh in ‘s-Heerenberg.

But that reclining figure was unfamiliar to me. In a way it makes me think of an Assyrian Sphinx with its wavy goatee and the protruding front legs, but later I discovered the rams horns and it turned out to be more like a peculiar kind of little satyr.

Whenever I'm copying these kinds of weathered pieces, I consider that in the course of almost 150 years the limestone has severely weathered down and sunken back. If I'd copy it in this state, you'll still end up with a copy of a damaged and weathered down relief. That's why I try to find out as much as possible how it once must have been. Sometimes that simply isn't possible because parts are gone and I have to interpret what used to be there. This reconstructing of damaged sculpture is one of the interesting aspects that make the work as fun and diverse. But luckily it wasn't too difficult this time: after all, there are two of these bench legs and what's missing on one of them, can sometimes be deducted on the other.

Read more about the other elements of this garden bench-

Satyr in sandstone for bench castle Twickel / sandstone sphinxesFruitguirlande and satyr bench for Castle Twickel / sandstone sphinxes

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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