Spanish handicraft teacher botches restoration of 500-year-old effigy of St George in Spanish church (photos)

16:31 • 27.06.18



Another medieval artwork has fallen victim to an amateur restoration project in a Spanish church, leaving experts and community leaders furious.

A local handicraft teacher was commissioned to restore the 16th century statue of St George inside a church in the town of Navarre -  but the finished product has been compared to a  'fairground carousel figure','a lead soldier' and blasted as 'barely recognisable'.


The controversy is such that it has been likened to the “Ecce Homo” saga which catapulted the small village of Burgos to international fame when an 80-year-old disastrously tried to give the medieval religious painting a facelift, the Daily Mail reports.


The statue of St George and the Dragon takes pride of place in the church of San Miguel de Estella in Navarre.


It is believed to date back at least 500 years and shows the saint in his armour mounted on horseback with the dragon below.


The statue was originally decorated in an ancient style known as 'polychrome' in which different colours are used but needed urgent restoration because of its advanced deterioration.


Conservationists say the restoration should have been tackled by an expert but was apparently undertaken by a small art school at the request of the local priest.


The result has caused outrage both in Navarra and further afield, with people asking what has happened to the sculpture.


The mayor of Navarro Koldo Leoz tweeted his anger at the botched job. He said: “Today #Estella #Lizarra is not news for its spectacular historical, artistic, architectural and cultural heritage in general, it is for an unfortunate performance in a carving of St. George of the sixteenth century that is in one of the imposing religious temples of the city.”


It's been slammed as a 'ninot' or 'puppet' after the treatment allegedly included sanding, covering the surface with plaster and then repainting in only uniform colours, especially on the face. 


The Navarra culture department admits it now looks like a fairground carousel ride.


The local council says it didn't give the go-ahead to the work, with the Mayor of Estella, Koldo Leoz, commenting: “It seems that the restoration leaves something to be desired, being a work of the 16th century, a polychrome sculpture with which we must be very careful with the materials used because you can lose the entire original layer.” 


Experts will now study the suspect restoration to see if it is irreversible or damaged for ever.


As in Borja in Zaragoza, however, every cloud could well have a silver lining. 


The village hit the headlines in 2012 when its cherished 'Ecce Homo' ('Beyond the Man') painting was renamed 'Ecce Mono' ('Beyond the Monkey') because of its very strange facelift.


Octogenerian Cecilia Gimenez had the best of intentions when she tried to restore and repair damage to the portrait of Christ, which is nearly a century old.


Unfortunately, the work by the amateur painter didn't go exactly to plan.


The spectacularly bad results garnered worldwide attention and was dubbed one of “the worst art restoration projects of all time”. 

 The result of the restoration has caused outrage both in Navarra and further afield, with people asking what has happened to the sculpture  

The statue was originally decorated in an ancient style known as 'polychrome' in which different colours are used but needed urgent restoration because of its advanced deterioration





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