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Garden Statues

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT BRONZE, MARBLE, AND CONCRETE STATUES

Looking to procure some splendor in the grass? Some vim among the vines? When it comes to outdoor decor, few objects have the ability to make a garden glow quite like antique and vintage statues. As experts will tell you, though, choosing an outdoor statue is no easy task. Materials vary wildly, from molten metal-bases like bronze and iron to stones like marble and limestone. Each comes saddled with their own set of pros and cons, making the selection of a statue a more scrupulous endeavor than some might have accounted for—and that’s to say nothing of where to place your statue once you finally get it in the yard. To help make the whole process a bit less arduous, we’re highlighting three main types of statues to consider, plus giving you a landscaper perspective on how to ensure your vintage statues read like a garden thriller rather than filler.

Where to Place Vintage Garden Statues

As anyone knows, front porch statuary can be a bit polarizing—the ongoing debate on whether a certain breed of big cat flanking your front door is pretentious or quintessential continues to divide neighbors the world over—which makes a good case for deploying statuary in the backyard where it can be appreciated sans scrutiny.

Some of where you place your bronze or marble sculpture depends on your statue’s subject matter. French or Italian garden statues modeled after classical figures make befitting garden centerpieces, while Animalia imitations—think ducks, rabbits, deer, swans—can make for quaint discoveries when tucked into out-of-the-way garden nooks. It's also true that some animal statues make better doorway guards than backyard beasts. Lions—the not-so-subtly-alluded-to “big cats,” above, known for divvying neighbors—and dogs both feel most at home flanking an entrance rather than dallying in the backyard.

Call upon any garden guru to give you the skinny on what makes for a stone or iron statue feel plunked down with intention rather than haphazard, and they’re likely to hone in on the importance of scale. In short, your statues, be they stone statues, bronze statues, or concrete statues, should be relative in size to the size of your yard. That’s not to say that small-scale statues have no business in a yard with acreage, but they should be recessed into a siphoned off part of the garden—think along a pathway carved into shrubbery or a cobblestone patio annexed off from the rest of the yard.

In the event you do stumble upon a statue you love, but it lacks the scale to complement your garden properly, consider docking it on a plinth. A plinth can elevate a figural statue from graceful to ethereal, plus, it’s an easy way to elevate any statue to garden centerpiece status.

3 Statue Materials to Consider

Bronze Statues

If you needed an endorsement for a bronze statue consider this: sculptors Donatello, Rodin, Brancusi all worked in bronze to eminent effect. Bronze, in fact, was one of the first mediums to have been adopted by sculptors. Reveled for its low melting point which allowed sculptors to incise the most diminutive details, bronze remains one of the most commonly used materials to fabricate oversized outdoors artworks today. A bronze statue will of course cost you, but the rewards of bronze can be reaped long after the shock of your bank account dropping wears off. Bronze is notorious—renowned, some might even say—for its oxidation process, which results in a fetching bright green verdigris. Those who’d rather stave off the chemical effects need only apply a paste wax twice a year which will restore bronze statues’ illustrious patina and provide a barrier against the elements.

Marble Statues

Mention marble statues and most minds jump to classical Greek statues, but marble statues can be traced as far back as ancient Mesopotamia. Like bronze, marble is heralded for its ability to capture real-to-life details. That said, thanks to its creamy surface and eye-catching veining, marble can be as equally befitting for modern statues as traditional ones. More reasons to marvel over marble? It’s more resistant to fading from UV rays than other materials and fights back against scratches and pitting. All of that said, marble statues are softer than say, bronze or concrete statues, so those in extreme climates may want to heed caution.

Concrete Statues

Nothing captures a feeling of aged elegance quite like concrete statues. Whether you opt for a concrete statue in a cool, blue-cast hue, or a warm pearly cream, concrete statues feel both done-up and down-down in a way that few mediums rival. As a bonus, concrete is extremely wallet-friendly—wholesale concrete statues, even epic sizes, can often be procured for under a hundred dollars. Concrete doesn’t boast the caliber of bronze or marble when it comes to detailing capabilities, but what it lacks malleability, it makes up for in durability. Dips in the mercury can cause concrete statues to crack, on occasion, but for the most part, calamities are preventable by applying concrete sealer once or twice a year.