st. Joseph & infant Jesus Antique church statue


restoring face of Infant Christ statue
restoring face of Infant Christ

A gift from a son We were asked to restore this carved wooden statue of Saint Joseph and the child Jesus by a local man, who had bought it some years ago in an antique shop for his mother. The seller had said it was carved in France, and hailed from the 1850's. As we regularly restore statuary from this period, I'd happily agree with the seller's appraisal. It had not fared well over the years. It stood 57 inches tall and around 30 inches wide. Only experience can tell if a statue in this sort of condition can or cannot be restored. Sometimes one has to say no, unfortunately it’s too late.


When it was new

When the statue first emerged fresh from the sculptor’s studio (possible Raffl?) It would have been covered in what I call gothic “wallpaper”. Although the decorative covering had long gone, the copper element in the gold paint had stained the old gesso, leaving a ghostly trace of its former appearance.


Since then, the statue of Saint Joseph and the infant Jesus had been repainted several times finally arriving at this buff – (grey?) appearance and finished with gold edged garments.


poor condition of statue
damaged condition of statue

What we did

The statue was repaired, cleaned and prepared, then layers of traditional gesso applied.

Once fully dry, the gesso was shaped and sanded to match the curves and forms originally created by the sculptor.


repairing the antique church statue
repairing the antique church statue

The statue was painted in colours found on the statue; and as most of the original decoration was missing, I designed a repeat pattern appropriate for the period, and drew it to scale before painting it onto the statue.

repeat pattern textile sketch
repeat pattern textile sketch

Finally, we added a wooden fascia to the base of the statue, and a dedication to our client's beloved mother.


Thankfully, the restoration did not come too late to save the statue. I will let the photos tell the rest of the story; our client was very happy with the results.


church statue before and after restoration
church statue before and after restoration

 carved wood antique church statue restored
carved wood antique church statue restored

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