Lick of paint for statues

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Restoration work has been carried out to Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal’s famous four statues.

The figures - Neptune, Bacchus, the Wrestlers and Galen - in the water garden at the National Trust site near Ripon, have been transformed by restoring and painting to replicate white marble as their original designers intended.

Sarah France, World Heritage Site Coordinator and Conservation Manager at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal said: “During restoration work in the 1980s all traces of the original paint were removed, but we know from research, 18th century visitor accounts and historic images that the statues would originally have been painted white.

“It’s a key objective of the conservation work we do at this World Heritage Site to restore the garden to its original design.”

The work was carried out by Rupert Harris, Metalwork Conservation Advisor to the National Trust, the leading conservators of metalwork and sculpture in the UK.

It took the team four days to return the statues to their original 18th century appearance.

In common with other 18th century gardens, Studley Royal’s statues are made of cast lead.

And white paint was used to imitate a marble finish, mimicking the appearance of the stone statues they would have seen on grand tours of Europe, at a fraction of the cost.

The restoration process involved removing any loose modern grey paint using specialist paint stripping equipment and high pressure steam.