The repositioning of the lead sculptures at the far ends of the roof and around the windows of the Royal Chapel marks a major milestone in the progression of the works. This stage represents the completion of the restoration of the roof structure and prepares the way for the installation of a solid, waterproof covering, adorned with its many sculpted decorative elements.

150

tonnes, the weight of the crane repositioning the cherubs.

800

kilograms, the weight of a sculpted cherub.

15

days to redo all the welding in situ in order to consolidate the sculpted groups.

They intervene at this step

A brand new look

As the restoration of the roof structure is completed, the lead cherubs are reappearing at the Royal Chapel restoration site. Two years after their removal, followed by their restoration in Périgueux, they are again being loaded onto enormous cranes and returned to their original positions. This operation calls for extreme caution, given that a single lead cherub weighs nearly 800 kilograms and must be handled as delicately as possible at the top of the building.

Before the cherubs are repositioned, the work of the restorers is carried out in several stages: the statues are cleaned and degreased, any sediment is removed, cracks are filled with molten lead that prevents water seepage, the welding is tidied up, surfaces are rendered smooth and uniform, and the final chiselling (adding the finishing touches to adornments and decors) restores them to their initial intact state. The cherubs have also been consolidated with the installation of new internal supporting structures. To conclude, these works require technical expertise, but also a genuine artistic sensibility. Two more weeks are then required to complete the final welding in situ.

The symbolic return of the cherubs  

These statues of naked and winged, chubby-cheeked and mocking little infants, called "putti", are essential elements in the architectural ornamentation of the façade and overlook the Versailles estate. Their return to their lofty positions gives symbolic expression to a key stage in the works, where the next step is the installation of the roofing. The lead sculptures will then return to the gilders' hands, who will add the finishing touches, thus completing their restoration.

A symbolic return

The West groupe

"The West group was most exposed to the winds. We believe the cherub came unstuck from his two brothers during the storm of 1999."

— Stéphane Masi – Operations Manager for the palace of Versailles

The East group

"The East group was not repositioned as a whole but as several elements, each angel was mounted separately in order to reform the group at a later stage."

— Olivier Baumgartner – ornamentist