A SPANISH church has been condemned for the botched restoration of a 16th-century statue which left Saint George looking like a "frightening cartoon character".
The wooden sculpture, housed at San Miguel Church in the Navarre town of Estella, had turned a dark shade of brown in the 500 or so years since its completion.
But images shared online after its restoration show the ancient saint sporting a garish pink face with cartoonish eyes and flashy red armour.
It has been compared to the restoration by an elderly woman of the 'Ecce Homo' ('Behold the Monkey') fresco of Jesus Christ in nearby Borja - which resembled a pale-faced ape and catapulted its well-meaning restorer Cecilia Gimenez to international fame in 2012:
Every now & again, I remember the Ecce Homo botched restoration, & it never fails to make me laugh. pic.twitter.com/2OhmsOMa1D
— JESS 🌙 (@yessicaaf) June 27, 2018
Local officials have expressed outrage that the church didn't inform them of their plans for the "frightening" restoration.
Director of the regional heritage service, Carlos Martinez Alava, said the work was carried out "without control or professionalism" by a local arts and crafts teacher.
"They covered the paint from the 16th century with new paint, it also seems that scraping and sanding was done, which are not techniques used in restoration nowadays," he said, adding his team were trying to work out how to "undo" the makeover.
— Anthony Bellanger انطوني (@a_bellanger) June 27, 2018
Mayor of Estella, Koldo Leoz, said: "They've used plaster and the wrong kind of paint and it's possible that the original layers of paint have been lost.
"This is an expert job. It should have been done by experts".
The country's art conservation association, ACRE, branded the repainting an "attack on the cultural heritage" of Spain.
"Repainting the original polychromy is not restoring," it said.
Nuevas fuentes informan que la restauradora del San Jorge de Estella es muy fan de Tintín... pic.twitter.com/2ZtaRyqxNi
— franXu (@panse1981) June 26, 2018
According to local reports, the church had only wanted the sculpture to be "cleaned" and had no intention of having it fully restored.
The president of ACRE, Fernando Carrera, said the St George sculpture had been “a work of great historical and cultural relevance” before the parish priest ordered the work.
“We have lost part of our cultural heritage,” he added.
Unsurprisingly, the bungled restoration has been widely mocked by social media users.
One joked that St George was now the "patron saint of Disney characters".
Another added: "Can't decide whether he's more Tintin or Playmobil. Props to the artist."