A famous painting of the Immaculate Conception by baroque artist Bartolomé Esteban Murillo has become the newest in a long line of botched art restorations in Spain.
Murillo’s painting was reportedly cleaned by a furniture collector for €1,200, according to The Guardian. But despite two efforts to restore the work to its original state, the face of the Virgin Mary is now unrecognizable — causing outrage in the Spanish art conservation community and beyond.
“I don’t think this guy – or these people – should be referred to as restorers,” Fernando Carrera, former president of Spain’s Professional Association of Restorers and Conservators told the Guardian.
“Let’s be honest: They’re bodgers who botch things up. They destroy things.”
On social media, the Murillo repair was inevitably compared to other disappointing art restorations from recent years — such as 2012 work on Ecce Homo fresco of Jesus Christ dubbed “Monkey Jesus,” or work on a 16th-century wooden Saint George statue, which in 2018 was described as resembling a cartoon character.
The original is on the left. The two attempts at “restoring” it are on the right. Ouch.
“Experts call for regulation after latest botched art restoration in Spain: Immaculate Conception painting by Murillo reportedly cleaned by furniture restorer.”https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2020/jun/22/experts-call-for-regulation-after-latest-botched-art-restoration-in-spain …
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://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/dec/28/how-monkey-christ-brought-new-life-to-a-quiet-spanish-town …
The continuing history of failed repairs like these has led experts to stress the importance of training and increased regulations surrounding art restoration.
“We cannot tolerate more attacks on our cultural heritage,” ACRE said in a statement after the St. George restoration attempt. “It shows a frightening lack of training of the kind required for this sort of job.”
Europa Press, which first broke the news of the Murillo restoration, spoke to María Borja, vice president of Internal Relations and coordinator of ACRE.
“The Heritage Law itself does not specifically oblige or recommend that the interventions be carried out by professionals trained in conservation-restoration,” Borja told Europa Press. “This lack of legislation leads to disastrous interventions that occasionally come to us, especially alarming when it comes to Romanesque carvings or Renaissance images of great value.”
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