It’s common for 16th-century statues to undergo restoration as their colors fade and facades fray—but rarely does the opposite happen. A statue in Estella, Spain, of St. George, slayer of dragons and savior of princesses, that was originally restored in 2018 is currently being “unrestored” and reverted to its older, scruffier self.
The company tasked with the original restoration job was more used to making furniture repairs and building arts and crafts for kids, and they turned in a new version of the Christian martyr that horrified local art lovers. A Spanish restorer called the job an “atrocity” and the mayor of Estrella declared, “This is an expert job, it should have been done by experts.” Some suggested the newly chipper dragon slayer, with his rosy cheeks and fresh demeanor, recalled that adventurous cartoon character Tintin.
After the botched job went viral, the town sent the statue to the northern Spanish province of Navarra, where experts with the government’s cultural department embarked on a project with a budget of 30,000 euros (about $34,000) to research and restore the statue to what it would have looked like when it was first made. According to the New York Times, “They stripped back the vivid layers of paint and reached back in time to the features its sculptor had intended.”
The “unrestoration” left the statue looking much like it did before the Tintin-esque makeover, and those responsible for the initial, poorly executed paint job were fined 6,000 euros ($6,800) each by the government.