On my flickr feed, I've got a whole album dedicated to the statues of St.Anthony I've restored. One popular model of the saint, depicts him holding a book, with the infant Christ standing on the pages, about to hug him.
The artist has some styling quirks, and after a while one spots these traits and says " Ah, its "Him" again. ( or "Her" if you please...)
The habit of making one foot larger than the other, and hands too large for the head are just two which have been applied to shepherds, kings and saints alike by this artist.
Whereas I used to find this anatomical incorrectness annoying, I now view it rather like recognising an old freind and meeting them again.
As sculptors in large studios seldom get to paint their works (that task is often passed on to others) the difficulties of squeezing a brush filled with paint into the gaps between books, crooks and beads formed by the sculptor is none of his concern.
The painter just has to adapt, contorting his brushes and face to reach the recesses.
One of St. Anthony's religious brothers who was in formation "borrowed" his book of sermons without his permission. St. Anthony prayed for the return of the brother, and the book.
The return of said book (and the brother who purloined it) gave rise to the practice of praying for St. Anthony's help, in the return of Lost objects.
I can't help wondering though, when I see what usually represents the writings of St. Anthony on his statues, ( top left) if the brother returned his book because he couldn't decipher his writing!
I have had a number of suggestions made to me of what one should or could write in St. Anthony's book (when statue - painting):
"Return to us what we do not know we have lost..." or " Make me a channel of your peace..." But my favourite is from the Our Father - "Give us this day our daily bread."
Anthony's preaching of the time emphasised the "Hypostatic union"; that is the uniqueness of Jesus being both fully divine and fully human. He did so to refute the eroneous beleifs of Catharism. The acceptance of Jesus as a whole divine person, (body, blood, soul and divinity), is key if one is to recognise the true and whole presence of Christ in the Catholic Eucharist...He is our "Bread of life."
I think St. Anthony would be happy with the little statue of Jesus standing on his book, painted with the words " Give us this day our daily bread."
Clients often travel some distance to bring their treasured statues for my attention.
Its always a pleasure to sit down to a "cuppa" and discuss their statues with them.
This small sacred heart statue is around sixty or seventy years old; As a "family devotional piece", the owner wanted it restored to its original appearance.
"Ms. M's" statue was made of a soft grade plaster. It was spray-painted and finished with a coating of glossy lacquer. The few hand painted details were sparsely done.
Soft plaster figures combined with lacquered surfaces, are tricky to repair, and this one was just "On the Edge" of being salvageable.
This statue had once belonged to a favourite aunt; it had been thought that the missing colour on the hair, and sparse detail were due to seventy years of wear and tear.
However, this actually was how the statue had looked when it was first purchased
( Less the chipping of course!).
This presented a bit of a dilemma, as the original paintwork was not as attractive as one had hoped.
Rather than restore exactly to the original, it was agreed that a higher standard of finish was preferrable. Keeping in mind the simplicity of the originals, I kept the face details restrained, but more natural - looking.
"Ms. M" also brought her "Immaculate Heart" statue for rejuvenation. As this statue had similar faults to those of the Sacred Heart, I restored it with the same approach.
Lewis and Lewis
is a Catholic family run business: specialising in statue restoration, and church interior projects.
Jeanette is a professional sculptor/fine artist and designer; husband David is a traditional upholsterer/technician.
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