After being severely damaged in a botched restoration effort in 2013, the equestrian statue of Charles IV of Spain, known by the denizens of Mexico City as El Caballito, will be ready to see the light of day again tomorrow.
The previous effort was deemed inadequate and unprofessional after it caused the loss of 50% of the sculptural layer of the 19th-century bronze monument.
The poor workmanship came to light through posts on social media, which prompted the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) to suspend work on the monument.
It wasn’t until September 2014 that authorities determined that the damage sustained by the statue was “irreversible,” and estimated that any attempt at repair would cost over 1.4 billion pesos (close to US $107 million).
Four low-ranking officials in the government of Mexico City were punished for the damage in 2015.
Last year, an interdisciplinary team of specialists led by INAH began new restoration and conservation work in earnest, focusing not only on the sculpture itself but also on the stone pedestal on which it sits. They completed the job earlier this year.
A white tarp still covers the monument in preparation for its unveiling during an official ceremony.
El Caballito was cast by Manuel Tolsá on August 4, 1802 in Mexico City, in honor of King Charles IV of Spain, who ruled in the 16th century.
After being polished and engraved, the statue was taken to its pedestal and inaugurated on December 1803 at its original location within the zócalo of Mexico City.
Anti-Spanish sentiment after Mexican independence was achieved in 1821 threatened the safety of the sculpture, forcing its relocation.
In 1979 it was moved to its current location, Plaza Manuel Tolsá, overlooking the Palacio de Minería.
El Caballito, or The Little Horse, is anything but small. Weighing 26 tonnes, it is the second largest cast bronze statue in the world.
Source: El Universal (sp)