Hämmelsmarsch
29.03.2024
Art and culture

BACKGROUND

Erected in June 1982 and inaugurated two months later on 21 August 1982 on the opening day of the Schueberfouer, the patinated bronze "Hämmelsmarsch" sculpture by Luxembourg artist Wil Lofy (1937–2021) has graced "Roude Pëtz" Square for four decades.

From 1740 to 1867, the famous so-called "Red Well" was a water well, protected by a red brick structure that was used by the garrison of Luxembourg's old fortress.

After Grand-Rue was converted into a pedestrian zone in 1981, a fountain was erected on the site of the former well. The fountain is hexagonal in shape and lined with pink granite stone. In the middle of the fountain is a sculpture depicting a group of musicians and sheep. The sculpture also features an accordionist whose features depict those of the artist himself.

PHASES OF THE RESTORATION

Since its erection in 1982, the "Hämmelsmarsch" sculpture succumbed to the passage of time, and the dark-brown and golden patina of bygone years was totally altered. The sculpture was covered by a greyish-green layer due to the oxidation of the copper in the bronze, and a limestone crust caused by the water trickling through the musicians' instruments.

As a result of these alterations, the finer details of the sculpture were no longer visible, so much so that passers-by could no longer fully appreciate the quality of Wil Lofy's workmanship.

In light of the major alterations to the fountain, the French Fonderie de Coubertin workshop, which has extensive expertise in restoring patinated bronze sculptures that form part of our shared European heritage, was selected to perform the restoration.

In October 2023, the "Hämmelsmarsch" sculpture was removed from its original location and sent to be restored at the Fonderie de Coubertin, a specialised workshop in Saint-Rémy-lès-Chevreuse near Paris.

The first step in the restoration process entailed cleaning the bronze by micro-scrubbing to remove the old, altered patina, and repairing the cracks by welding and chasing.

Next, several layers of a new hot patina were applied on the bronze to reproduce the original patina. A dark-brown patina was chosen for the people and sheep, while a more golden patina was chosen for the musical instruments.

Finally, the entire surface of the new patina was covered with three layers of protective film of microcrystalline wax to protect the sculpture from new alterations for a while.

After four months in the restoration workshop, the sculpture was returned from Paris, and on 21 March it was reinstalled on its base in Place du Puits Rouge in anticipation of its inauguration on 29 March 2024. Now, anyone who comes to Luxembourg City can once again admire the sculpture in all its original splendour.