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Restoration goes wrong: “face of Virgin Mary mutilated beyond recognition”

Spanish restoration experts can no longer see it. Now that another artwork has been shattered in an amateur restoration, they ask the government for clear rules. “Some politicians don’t give a shit about our cultural heritage.”

A new item can be added to a questionable list of failed restorations in Spain. A private art collector from Valencia paid a furniture restorer 1,200 euros to restore a copy of a fresco by the famous Baroque artist Bartolomé Esteban Murillo. But the result is not as hoped: the face of the Virgin Mary has been mutilated beyond recognition.

A slap in the face for restoration experts in Spain, replies Fernando Carrera, professor at the Galician School of Conservation and Restoration, to ‘The Guardian’. “I don’t think this man – or these people – should be called restorers. Let’s be honest: they are klutz who messes it up. We see this happening over and over again. And it just keeps happening.”

Carrera calls on the government to invest more in the conservation of its cultural heritage. “It shouldn’t be at the top of the list, such as healthcare or employment – there are more important things. But this is about our history.”

Restoration goes wrong: “face of Virgin Mary mutilated beyond recognition”

The incident is the umpteenth time in a long line of restoration projects that have ended bleakly. Many people undoubtedly remember the disastrous restoration of the fresco ‘Ecce Homo’. In 2012, an elderly lady in Borja, Spain, decided to freshen up the mural. The result was not: the face of Jesus Christ was more like a monkey than a human. The images went around the world, and the pitiful restoration even made it a tourist attraction.

This 'Ecce Homo' fresco in Borja was hit hard in 2012.
©AFP – This ‘Ecce Homo’ fresco in Borja was hit hard in 2012.

And the restoration of the wooden sculpture of Saint George, in the Spanish city of Estella in 2018, has not been forgotten either. After the work, his face was more like that of a Playmobil male.

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