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16th Century Statue Gets a Shocking “Restoration” by a Local Teacher

Another Spanish church is making international headlines for a well-intentioned, but botched, restoration job. Six years after Cecilia Giménez's Ecco Homo was declared the worst restoration in history, a church in the town of Estella is facing backlash for conservation efforts it authorized. Located in northern Spain in Navarre, the authorities of the St. Michael's church requested assistance in restoring a 16th-century wooden effigy of St. George.

But instead of passing that request through the mayor's office, who would have asked the regional government to send in experts, church authorities apparently went to a local handicrafts teacher. Though surely they tried their best, the results go to show just how difficult restoration can be and how much care should be taken with historical patrimony.

Red rosy cheeks and a colorful suit of armor have had social media comparing the revamped effigy to Tintin. Local restoration group ArtUs Restauración Patrimonio was one of the first to sound the alarm that something was amiss. In a now-deleted Facebook post, they put up before and after photos of the work, questioning the quality of the work.

“I saw photographs of the atrocity they were committing,” owner Carmen Usúa told The New York Times. “As a professional, I feel disconcerted and very offended. It takes years to acquire the skills necessary to carry out these kinds of restorations, so imagine the frustration when something like this happens.” She noted that the restoration had obliterated much of the original detail in the armor which was owed to polychrome layers of paint.

Mayor Koldo Leoz, who has expressed his frustration with the situation on Twitter, has called in experts to see if the damage can be reversed. “It's not been the kind of restoration that it should have been for this 16th-century statue. They’ve used plaster and the wrong kind of paint and it’s possible that the original layers of paint have been lost,” he stated. “This is an expert job it should have been done by experts.”

A botched restoration in Estella, Spain has transformed a 16th-century wooden sculpture into a figure compared to a children's cartoon.

h/t: [Boing Boing]

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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