The facade of a centenary building on Calle Mayor de Palencia, in the heart of the city, jumped into the international press in November 2020 after the botched repair of one of its high-reliefs representing a shepherdess was discovered. The sculpture, 17 meters high, now smiles bucolic again thanks to the efforts of the owners of the property.
The scaffolding has already been removed from the facade and the arrangement has restored the sweetness to the shepherdess. Five years ago, some workers had turned it into a stick figure during repair work undertaken after a landslide. They did not use a chisel. The workaround, effective from a merely pragmatic point of view because rubble did not fall again, was compared at the time with another controversial intervention, discovered in 2012, in a 19th-century eccehomo that adorned a church in the Zaragoza town of Borja. On that occasion it was the hand of a neighbor of the municipality who repainted the work, and that became an international farce.
In Palencia for a long time no one noticed the destruction of the shepherdess, perpetrated after intense rains in 2017, due to the high height of the sculpture. But the painter Antonio Capel visited a nearby flower shop one day and, between geraniums and gladioli, he received a comment: “Look at the shepherdess above.” It was November 2020 when the man went up to his studio, in the building opposite the shepherdess, and appreciated thanks to the telephoto lens of his camera that instead of soft features there was a coarse face that the British newspaper Guardian dared to compare with that of former US President Donald Trump.
Capel publicly denounced the intervention and it circulated through the media and social networks with a tone between jocular and scandalized. A little over a year later, work began on the pastora building, which currently houses the offices of the Unicaja bank and other companies, as well as private homes. Tomás de la Torre, a member of the Archivolta company, which specializes in restoring historical heritage, explains that it has taken about two and a half months to return the high-reliefs to their original style, since beyond the shepherdess there were other ornaments damaged by erosion.
“The composition had been there for 100 years and it has an iron armor under the paint, water has been filtering, which has generated an oxide that ended up expanding and bursting the cement inside”, explains the restorer. The procedure applied has consisted of making molds of identical little shepherdesses to imitate them with fiberglass and polyester resin. Once the replicas materialized, they were relocated to their original location, a complex moment because the reproductions do not fit so easily in their location and armed mortars and stainless steel rods have been needed to carry out the adaptation properly.
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Number 9 of Calle Mayor de Palencia has recovered its splendor and the scaffolding has been moved to another part of the façade to make other improvements along the way. At the time, Unicaja denied being responsible for the property as such, since the entity only owns the branch premises and the first floor. The complete set belonged to Caja Duero, which became part of Unicaja, and this entity sold it to the current tenants. Next year, the block will celebrate exactly one century since its inauguration in 1923.
De la Torre suspects that those who carried out this eccehomo-type intervention Palentino, in addition to not being exactly experts, and they did not work with other materials beyond the cement and the trowel, they lacked the lifting bucket that has allowed the Archivolta team to carry out their task with comfort and detail.
The manager of the Vivaldi florist, José Manuel del Barco, one of the first to notice the rude arrangement, celebrates the novelties: “It has turned out wonderfully, like the original.” The man from Palencia is surprised by the “circus” set up around eccehomo because “no one had ever realized it until that moment” and that “face decachuflada” aroused the curiosity of the city, which over time dimmed again. Now it’s time for the work to endure without mishaps. The new material is much lighter and more resistant than the genuine one so that neither the harshest weather conditions or the greatest of misfortunes cause more torments in the shepherdess, who had enough to spend more than four years with a face that was not hers. .