Words in the News


© Getty Images/fStop \ Jonathan Gelber
Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter

A few years ago, an unremarkable church in the Spanish city of Borja made it into the headlines when a local art lover did a freelance restoration of a 19th image of the scourged Christ. The restoration, carried out with more enthusiasm than skill, provoked universal derision and caused some distress to the descendants of the artist who painted the mural, Elías García Martínez, while becoming a tourist attraction in its own right.

The creator of the 16th century statue of St George in Estella-Lizarra, near Pamplona in the Navarre province of northern Spain, is long dead and there are no descendants to fret about another piece of unauthorized amateur restoration work, though the local mayor is said to be furious. The muted colours of the original have been replaced with gaudy pinks, blues and reds, though of course the statue may well have been equally bright when it was first placed in the church.

In addition to the return of a work of art or building to something like its original condition, restoration also refers to the return of something that was lost or stolen, or of software to a computer after it has been repaired. When used with upper case, the Restoration refers to the period in British history when the monarchy was restored under Charles II and the art produced in that period, especially a type of witty sexy comedy of manners known as Restoration comedy.

Restoration comes from the verb restore, which is derived from the Latin ‘restaurare’, meaning to rebuild or restore.

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Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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