Yves Rouyet, alderman for heritage in Ixelles, found the statue completely blackened on Friday morning. “The bronze is burnt, but the shape is still good. There is damage. The arm is partly melted.” The statue is now being taken for repairs by a specialized company. The municipality is in discussions with Monuments and Landscapes to see how to proceed.
Sculptor Tom Frantzen, known for bronze statues such as Madame Chapeau in Mussenstraat or Bruegel on Kapelleplein, has also seen the photos of the blackened statue. “It looks impressive. It’s pretty moronic to throw a worker to the ground. Symbolically perhaps not the best choice.”
Is the damage irreparable or not? “The melting temperature of bronze is 1160 degrees. So you must already have a powerful fire to be able to melt bronze. I also don’t know how long the statue was in the fire. But normally a campfire with pallets can’t do much damage.”
The greatest risk of damage is the impact during a fall. The statue dates from 1872. The alloy (the mixture of copper, tin, zinc and lead) gives an idea of how sturdy the statue is. “The bronze that was used in the past cracks more easily,” says Frantzen. “Silicon bronze, for example, is much stronger. Repairing a crack can be done by welding. But that is not an easy job. This must be done with spot welding, after which the image must be removed immediately. be cooled, otherwise there is a risk of additional cracking.”
And the typical green color? One wash is certainly not enough to get this back in order. “You have to sandblast and patinate such a statue again,” says Frantzen. “And patination is an art in itself.”
Whether and when the statue will again become part of the monument depends on expert research. There is a crack in one of the arms. This could allow water to seep into the image, causing additional damage.
It is not yet clear whether farmers will have to pay for the repair costs. “The police have images of the events,” says Rouyet. “In the meantime, the municipality of Ixelles is advancing the costs.”