This restoration attempt of a priceless Virgin Mary painting did not go well

Isobel van Hagen
Tuesday 23 June 2020 13:45
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(CEDIDA / EUROPA PRESS)

Art conservationists in Spain say it’s really time to tighten the laws around art restoration after the repair of yet another famous painting did not go quite as planned.

In Valencia, Spain, an anonymous art collector paid a furniture restorer to clean up his copy of Bartolomé Esteban Murillo's painting “The Immaculate Conception of Los Venerables,” the Europa Press first reported last week.

The original painting depicts the Virgin Mary in a white robe looking up towards heaven.

In the new version, the face of the Virgin Mary came back looking like a misshapen blob with smudged lips and crooked eyes, following two attempts to restore it to its original state.

Speaking with The Guardian, Fernando Carrera — a professor in conservation and restoration — said:

“I don’t think this guy—or these people—should be referred to as restorers… they’re bodgers who botch things up. They destroy things”.

The case inevitably brings to memory the infamous “Monkey Christ” incident eight years ago, when a devout parishioner’s attempt to restore a painting of Jesus on the wall of a church in a small town in Spain made headlines around the world.

The “Ecce Homo” (Behold the Man) was re-christened “Ecce Mono” (Behold the Monkey) after the artist’s efforts made the image virtually unrecognisable.

That said, Cecilia Gimenez’s well-intentioned yet botched attempts to restore a 19th-century fresco at her local church in 2012 proved surprisingly lucrative.

"Monkey Jesus" has become a major tourist attraction drawning thousands of visitors and raising funds for local charities.

It seems Jesus and Mary have suffered the same artistic fate.

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