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  • Writer's pictureEthan A. Hayes

How Nice Is Your Statuary?

Often the public does not have a good measure of what constitutes quality statuary. As the condition of local parish buildings slowly declines, this can be very difficult to objectively judge. What might be considered excellent in one place might be mediocre elsewhere. The church attempts to offer fitting divine worship; therefore it is good to keep as a reference what aesthetic quality is possible and acceptable. Then, as maintenance budgets are set toward the upkeep of the building and its furnishing, due attention can be given to ensure the patrimony of the church is not lost to the ravages of time.

To this end, here is presented a scale of 0-10 with example photos and written descriptions. Since statues only get worse with time outside of restoration, and high quality statues can be exceedingly rare, the distribution of statues on this scale will skew right (toward lower numbers). Numbers 3-6 constitute statues of a quality likely to be seen in a parish church. The quality of numbers 7-8 quality is not difficult to attain, but depending on location, may be uncommon or even completely unavailable through retail church goods purveyors. Numbers will descend from 5 due to damage and ascend from 5 on the basis of excellence of workmanship.

0 - Not Intact: in multiple large pieces, physically unusable, likely not even salvageable

1 - Terrible: utterly unfit for divine worship, but still largely intact despite any damage, ought to be removed and/or replaced immediately, restoration may not be economically viable; this status can be on the basis of an inexcusable style alone

2 - Poor: perhaps subject to a amateur restoration in the past, likely to have extensive chips, flakes, and small broken pieces; theoretically usable, but restoration or replacement ought to be considered as soon as financially possible

3 - Fair: perhaps some noticeable damage that can't be looked past, the original may have been of somewhat lower quality, restoration ought to be considered, but if the piece reaches this condition slowly, no one may think to actually do anything about it

4 - Acceptable: minor damage or somewhat inferior initial quality that can be looked past by most people; the style and/or general presentation will be somewhat less than ideal and somewhat worse than what would constitute a retail-quality product

5 - Nice: no real damages, color choices or style may be decent, but will not feature anything 'extra' such as glass eyes or halos, retail pieces ought to be at least this quality, but may not necessarily

6 - Good: may have glass eyes, a metal halo, or other minor extras, but the style and general presentation may still be somewhat mediocre

7 - Great: likely to have extra elements such as glass eyes and metal halos, the style and general presentation will be hard to critique, but will not likely feature advanced or very difficult techniques, and if they are present, they will not be done with excellence

8 - Excellent: likely as good as most parishes will ever have, glass eyes, metal halos will assuredly be present if stylistically called for, advanced and difficult techniques may be used, the piece will be known locally for its beauty

9 - Magnificent: perhaps as good as most people ever see in their lives, advanced techniques will assuredly be used, only other masters will find any flaw in the work, such a piece may be very difficult or expensive to acquire

10 - Perfection: as excellent as humanly possible, the very edge of the art, people are deeply moved wherever it is displayed, people will travel just to see it

Where do you feel your parish's statuary sits? Where would you like it to be?

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