Botched-up paintings and Spain has a history and it seems the country has been hit again by a horrible art restoration work — this time, a classic Virgin Mary painting has been turned into an unrecognisable blob. The tragic result of the yet another failed restoration work, which is being widely shared online, has made experts call for regulations.
According to local reports, an avid art collector paid €1,200 to clean his copy of Bartolomé Esteban Murillo’s 17th-century work The valuable artwork, titled The Immaculate Conception of Los Venerables from 1678, was handed to a furniture restorer to be cleaned. However, the results left the art collector horrified. The face of the original appeared completely disfigured, so the owner asked for the work to be repeated — only to make things worse and now the result looks like a child’s painting.
As reported by Europa Press, the collector has now ended up contacting a professional restorer to try to rescue the disfigured painting.
— eldiario.es (@eldiarioes) June 22, 2020
Soon, juxtaposed photos of the original painting and the failed result of the two attempts dominated social media conversation in Spain and elsewhere. Many were reminded about other such failed attempts in the country, particularly of the 2011 infamous restoration that is often referred to as “Monkey Christ”. A devout parishioner’s attempt to restore a church painting of the scourged Christ, known as Ecce Homo, which made north-eastern Spanish town of Borja famous worldwide, initially for wrong reason but later the context changed. According to INews, tens of thousands of tourists came to see the eerie work done on Christ’s face and helped pay for local charitable projects.
Now, as the new failed restoration photos are doing rounds on the internet, people think the new look on Mary is a “mood”, which describes 2020 perfectly, and has become a fodder of memes. Here’s how people are reacting to the gaffe.
Life is tough, and much is depressing, but I will still laugh to the point of tears at a botched restoration of a painting. pic.twitter.com/fWtETDEqTs
— Brad Johnson (@AhabLives) June 23, 2020
The universe knew we needed another Monkey Christ to lighten the horrors of 2020
— Holly Brockwell (@holly) June 23, 2020
Was this restoration commissioned by Sarah Huckabee Sanders? pic.twitter.com/UblRLyY6Z6
— truthaddict (@truthaddict76) June 23, 2020
— MegMegMcGee (@MegMegMcGee) June 23, 2020
— Lord Byron (@Byronldn) June 23, 2020
a botched art restoration in Spain (Immaculate Conception painting by Murillo) feels on par for 2020 pic.twitter.com/C8IKon1OuB
— kaye (@kayeisme) June 23, 2020
Why would anyone hire a FURNITURE restorer to work on a painting? This squarely rests on the painting owner!
Heck- I put new legs on an old sofa, so technically I’M A FURNITURE RESTORER!
Let me take a €1200 crack at restoring some old art! pic.twitter.com/hPlBoU1Bu1
— Hannibal (@Uncaged2Day) June 23, 2020
— Illuminati Reptilien (@IllumiReptilien) June 23, 2020
— A.R.F. (@lawgurrl) June 23, 2020
Awesome meme potential, though. pic.twitter.com/fUhds34Tz4
— Alexis Rosso (@Deranged_Rosso) June 23, 2020
Remember the infamous “Monkey Christ” affair?
81-year-old Cecilia Giménez became world famous for her *ahem* “amateur restoration” of Ecce Homo by Elías García Martínez… can you guess which is the original?https://t.co/S3g4bMFSlf pic.twitter.com/AEZJEi40wW
— Mark Rees (@reviewwales) June 22, 2020
— the tom autonomous zone (@thetomzone) June 22, 2020
— numbereightball (@numbereightball) June 22, 2020
Oh my god, they Mr.Bean’d it. pic.twitter.com/0hC7vCFjbP
— DatNoFact ↗ (@datnofact) June 22, 2020
It’s certainly a mood pic.twitter.com/8mWGGQJ45f
— Agnes (@agnesfrim) June 22, 2020
— Andrew Kimmel (@andrewkimmel) June 22, 2020
According to ArtNet, María Borja, a vice-president of the Valencia chapter of the Professional Association of Conservative Restorers of Spain, told that while a handful of these incidents come to wide attention because of social media, “there are a multitude of situations where the works are intervened by people without training… possibly causing irreversible change”.
Many also highlighted the botched restoration of a 16th-century polychrome statue last year of Saint George and the dragon in northern Spain that left the warrior saint resembling Tintin or a Playmobil figure. Fernando Carrera, a professor at the Galician School for the Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage, told Guardian that such people should not be referred to as restorers and called them “bodgers” who botch and destroy things. “Can you imagine just anyone being allowed to operate on other people? Or someone being allowed to sell medicine without a pharmacist’s licence? Or someone who’s not an architect being allowed to put up a building?” he asked.
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