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The restoration of centuries-old paintings is vital in preserving cultural heritage. But sometimes, the ones charged with repairing a work of art don’t remove just layers of dirt and grime. Sometimes, they wind up ruining a painting by disfiguring it beyond recognition. This type of botching has made headlines throughout the years, the most notable example being when a Spanish parishioner named Cecilia Giménez tried her hand at fixing a faded painting of Jesus Christ that was hanging in her church. What resulted was not a faithful repair, but a painting so unidentifiable it earned the nicknames “Beast Jesus” and “Monkey Christ.”
Another fumbled restoration, also in Spain, has recently been brought to light. A copy of the painting Immaculate Conception of Los Venerables by baroque artist Bartolomé Esteban Murillo was damaged beyond recognition when a private art collector paid a furniture restorer to clean it. Similar to “Beast Jesus,” the painting began as a lifelike rendering of the Virgin Mary but was eventually transformed, in two separate attempts, into a “misshapen lump” of a person. Now it is the subject of ridicule and another painful example of why professional art restorers perform a vital service when it comes to maintaining historical culture.
This incident has prompted conservation experts in Spain to encourage a tightening of laws that govern who can perform these services. They are urging the government to limit restorations to trained restorers who will take care to make sure that they are helping maintain these artworks instead of damaging them forever.
h/t: [The Guardian]