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Oops, They Did It Again: Spanish Artisans 'Restore' A Centuries-Old Work Of Art

Jun 26, 2018

Remember the Ecce Homo, the notorious, well-intentioned, poorly realized "restoration" of a fresco of Jesus in the town of Borja?

A group of craftsmen in Estella, Spain, seems to have missed out on the cautionary tale.

"It has happened again," El PaĆ­s solemnly intoned.

"The indignation is spreading like wildfire," Spain's ABC wrote.

"What has happened to St. George?" asked ArtUs, a Spanish restoration group.

The St. George in question is a 16th century statue in Spain's northern Navarre region.

And what happened ... was a face-lift.

The 16th century wooden statue of St. George at the church of St. Michaels in Estella was showing its age. The paint was faded and chipping.

So the church asked a local arts and crafts group to help clean it up a bit, according to The Local.

But to church leaders' surprise, the group, called Karmacolor, completely repainted the centuries-old statue in bright, vivid colors. Karmacolor posted its process, and the final result, on its Facebook page (which has since been deleted or deactivated).

You can see more before and after pictures in the Facebook post from ArtUs.

The comparison to the Ecce Homo is not perfect. These were people promoting themselves as craftsmen, not an 81-year-old woman with an ill-advised impulse. And they were invited in by the church, not acting on their own.

And their final result is cartoonish, but noticeably less monkey-esque than the tragic defacing of the Ecce Homo.

But the damage done to a historical artifact is no less severe, Spanish restorers have protested.

ACRE, the Professional Association of Conservators and Restorers of Spain, issued a blistering statement titled, "We can't tolerate more attacks on our cultural heritage."

"It's happened again," the group wrote. The organization wrote that the original piece had both artistic and historical value, which were destroyed by the repainting.

Under the law, a historical piece like this should have been handled by professional experts, according to ACRE.

The repainting is just one of a series of "well-intentioned mistakes that could have been avoided," the group says, including photos of a number of similar repaintings. "Unfortunately, the Ecce Homo of Borja was not the first and it won't be the last."

Meanwhile, social media users in Spain are taking cracks at who, or what, they think the freshened-up St. George most resembles.

Stingy, from the Icelandic children's TV show Lazy Town?

Nicolas Cage?

Tintin?

Woody, from Toy Story?

Maybe St. George was just freshening up with an Instagram filter.

"I don't know," one user said. "I like it."

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