An elderly Italian woman appears to have destroyed a valuable artwork after she took it upon herself to 'restore' the crumbling painting.

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The fresco - before and after

An elderly Italian woman appears to have destroyed a valuable artwork after she took it upon herself to 'restore' the crumbling painting.

The image, painted by 19th-century artist Elías García Martínez, had reportedly been deteriorating for some time.

The woman in her 80s, a neighbour of the church in which the fresco is located, attempted to restore the painting 'without permission but with good intentions'.

But a donation from the artist's granddaughter was about to fix that when the neighbour got in first to have a crack at fixing it up.

The results were not quite as she expected, however.

Once the budding artist realised she was in over her head, she confessed to local authorities.

A professional restorer is reportedly now set to assess the damage and see if the fresco can be saved.