Notebook

Restoration

What is the relationships between an original and a copy? In the light of Genesis 1,27, ‘God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him’, this problem is urgently relevant to every Christian. Athanasius, in his treatise On the Incarnation of the Word, developed it explicitly in terms of an artist’s work to restore a painting: ‘For as, when the likeness painted on a panel has been effaced by stains from without, he whose likeness it is must come once more to enable the portrait to be renewed on the same wood: for, for the sake of his picture, even the mere wood on which it is painted is not thrown away, but the outline is renewed upon it’. This enthralling documentary on the restoration of the Mona Lisa of the Prado is of more than just art-historical interest. It provides a parable of an existential pursuit of authenticity. It shows that a true copy is not a dead re-production, but a creation in its own right, possessing integrity. This applies to the works of a painter of genius. How much more must it apply to the works of the Author of Beauty?