A 2018 restoration attempt left the 16th-century Statue of St. George looking like a cartoon character and in need of “unrestoration.”
The historic, 500-year-old sculpture of St. George is kept at St. Michael’s Church in the northern Spanish province of Navarra. It’s attracted a lot of attention for the “botched” restoration attempted on it. The results were so bad that an “unrestoration” project was commissioned at a cost of about $34,000.
The following is an excerpt from Smithsonian Magazine about the project.
When a botched restoration attempt of a 500-year-old sculpture of St. George in northern Spain went viral last summer, commentators couldn’t resist weighing in: The well-meaning paint job, many pointed out, made the wooden statue look more like Tintin than a legendary dragon slayer.
Thanks to a roughly $34,000 USD “unrestoration” project, the statue—housed at St. Michael’s Church in the northern Spanish province of Navarra—has resumed a semblance of its original, 16th-century appearance. As Palko Karasz reports for The New York Times, experts from the local government’s culture department stripped the sculpture of its showy paint layers, assessed damage inflicted by the use of materials and processes “completely incompatible with the restoration of works of art,” and largely restored the walnut wood saint to his pre-2018 state.
But while Carlos Martínez Álava, head of the historic heritage department, tells the Guardian’s Sam Jones that the statue “has the same colors [seen] before last year’s extremely unfortunate intervention,” the fact remains, he says, that “we’ve lost part of the original paint along the way.”
The bits of paint that were lost have been filled in and from a distance it all looks the same. But when you get up close, you can see very clear what’s original and what’s not.Martínez Álava, head of the historic heritage department project
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