Vadian, 1904

Vadian lived from 1484 to 1551. The scholar, humanist, and mayor introduced the Reformation in St.Gallen. The bronze statue honoring the “city father” was created by the sculptor Richard Kissling in 1904. Although the approximately 2.5-ton and 3.90-meter-tall bronze sculpture has a steel armature, there were apparently concerns about stability from the very beginning, since the legs of the figure were also filled with a material that cannot be identified conclusively today. In 1944, the legs and plinth had to be restored because the stability was considered acutely at risk. At the time, the original filling material was removed, the cracks welded shut, and the badly deformed plinth straightened and its bottom screwed to the base. The figure was then filled with cement up to the skirt in order to stabilize it. The cement filling brought new problems along with it: it was not possible for condensation to escape. In the winter, the frozen condensation water therefore burst open the casting anew in the area of the legs and the plinth. These symptoms of damage developed further quite visibly in recent years and once again called the stability of the figure into question.

In order to give the Vadian sculpture the stabilization required as well as to facilitate continuous ventilation of the interior, a self-contained restoration method was developed. A further goal was preserving the deficient, but from a monument preservation perspective nonetheless valuable, inner life and thus important evidence of the working methods in 1904 and 1944. In cooperation with the monument preservation office of the City of St.Gallen, the decision was made to remove the cement completely and relieve the load on the thin-walled legs to the greatest extent possible. For the planning, a 3D model of Vadian was produced to determine the center of gravity and test modifications to the structure. Nearly 400 kg of cement were removed from the figure with a great deal of effort and necessary caution. A newly designed inner chromium steel structure that relieves the load on the legs to a great extent was built in. The originally closed joint of approximately 15mm between the base and plinth remains open and provides continuous ventilation through the entire figure. Cracks at the now relieved weak points were only lightly closed in order to keep the intervention in the original substance to a minimum. Only the large crack formations on the plinth were repaired with welding. The sculpture was also cleaned, while the patina was retained.