Visual Culture

Amateur restorers mangled a beloved 16th-century wooden sculpture in Spain.

Eli Hill
Jun 27, 2018 4:40PM, via the New York Times

What was once a beloved wooden sculpture of St. George is now being likened to a cartoon character, after a team of amateur restorers repainted the 16th-century work. St. Michael’s Church in the Spanish town of Estella had intended for the artwork to be cleaned but hired a company that the New York Times reports is mostly known for light furniture repair and kids crafting workshops to do the job. The result? Thick, brightly colored paint that may have damaged the sculpture beyond repair.

“It’s possible the detail of the armor and original colors have been lost forever,” Estrella Mayor Koldo Leoz told the Times. He told the BBC that the amateurs hired had “used plaster and the wrong kind of paint” for the job. “This is an expert job it should have been done by experts,” he said.

Local professional art restorer Carmen Usúa called the job an “atrocity” when speaking with the Times, adding “As a professional, I feel disconcerted and very offended. It takes years to acquire the skills necessary to carry out these kind of restorations, so imagine the frustration when something like this happens.”

Twitter soon erupted with comparisons of the sculpture’s restoration to another botched restoration attempt in Spain in 2012. In that instance, a 120-year-old fresco of Jesus with a crown of thorns in the small town of Borja, near Zaragoza was painted over by octogenarian parishioner Cecilia Giménez, whose rendition of the “ecce homo earned the nicknames ‘Beast Jesus’ and ‘Monkey Jesus’.

Karmacolor, the group responsible for the St. George restoration, reportedly posted videos of their work-in-progress throughout the month-long effort, according to the BBC, but has since taken them down.

Eli Hill
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