Steppin' Out with Peter Stuyvesant

Steppin’ Out With Peter Stuyvesant (see below for before & after photos)

Peter Stuyvesant is finally steppin’ out!  After some time in storage at the Jersey City Department of Public Works garage, it looks like the Peter Stuyvesant statue will be finally on the move.   We last saw Peter when he was picked up from the Beacon after we finished his restoration. 

Peter Stuyvesant being picked up, at The Beacon, where we completed his restoration. 

As he was mounted on the back of the flat bed truck, I was hoping that we would see him again very soon.  Now, exactly two years later, Peter is coming out of storage. 

Peter in storage, and before cleaning, at the Department of Public Works 

At some point in the very near future, Peter will be put on display in Journal Square.  This is a temporary location where he will stay until a new base will be built for him in Bergen Square, in front of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School.  Yesterday, Zakalak Restoration Arts made a trip to the DPW garage to get Peter ready for his trip.   A bath and soft cotton cloth buffing made him shine.  He is now being fitted for his new temporary base. 

Removing Peter from storage for a final cleaning post restoration. 

Peter being cleaned upon being removed from storage, 

Last year, I wrote this description of Peter and our restoration for the Jersey City Landmarks Conservancy calendar.  Our photo with Peter and this entry graced the month of October:

The Peter Stuyvesant statue is considered to be one of the finest works of J. Massey Rhind (1860-1936), one of the most respected portrait sculptors of the early twentieth century.  In the metropolitan area, it compares in quality with Massey Rhind’s dismounted bronze equestrian statue of George Washington in Washington Park, Newark, the Colleoni, in Clinton Park, Newark, and the portrait figure of Franklin Murphy in Weequahic Park, Newark.  The sculpture was cast at the Roman Bronze Works Foundry in New York City, the foremost American foundry for bronze sculpture during the Beaux-Arts period and the early twentieth century.  Roman Bronze Works cast sculptures of Frederic Remington, Charles Russell, August Saint-Gaudens, and Daniel Chester French, among others.  They specialized in the lost-wax casting process and produced the finest American bronzes ever made.

The sculpture consists of a heroic-scaled portrait figure of Peter Stuyvesant.   The bronze casting by Rhind is of an approximately nine-foot high Stuyvesant on a connected bronze plinth, dedicated on October 18, 1913.  Zakalak Restoration Arts restored only the bronze figure as the original massive twelve-foot high and eight-foot wide stone base was demolished. The last base for the statue, when it was located in front of the Martin Luther King Jr. School, was a small, squarish stone-clad base.  The Jersey City Landmarks Conservancy is in the process of raising funds to recreate the original base.

Zakalak Restoration Arts restored the Peter Stuyvesant statue using traditional techniques and materials that would have been available to J. Massey Rhind in 1913.  The conservation goal was to preserve the original patina, as it would have been applied by the sculptor.  We wanted  to create a finish that would have been typical for 1913, reversible,  but still durable to withstand the weather without using lacquer which has a tendency to look like applied film and to become crazed and brittle with time.  We thoroughly cleaned the statue using mild pressure water wash and conservation-grade soap.  Once the statue was dried, we photographed it in sections to determine any areas of deterioration that needed correction.  Once the bronze disease was arrested, the patina was touched up where necessary and the statue was then heated in sections and a hard, proprietary wax was applied.  Once the first coat of wax absorbed, we buffed the statue to highlight sections of the casting that would have been most exposed to wear.  A second coat of hard wax was applied over the first and blended in to create a protective coating.  Finally, a third coat of finish wax was applied for extra protection and to create a beautiful finish. 

The Peter Stuyvesant statue is a very fine and important piece of American portrait sculpture by the great American sculptor, J. Massey Rhind.  The citizens of Jersey City should be very proud to have such an important piece of American art in their city.

Below we show the sculpture in its 'before' state (after it had fallen victim to bronze disease) and after our restoration, before it was placed in storage.