A painting by renowned artist Bartolomé Esteban Murillo has been compared to the “Monkey Christ” restoration after it was disfigured during cleaning.
The 17th century painting, titled “The Immaculate Conception of Los Venerables”, was owned by a private art collector in Valencia, Spain, who reportedly paid $1200 (around £1080) to have the artwork cleaned by a furniture restorer.
However, the owner was horrified to find that the Murillo was returned with the Virgin Mary’s face botched and asked for the work to be restored to its original state, only for it to be made even worse on a second attempt.
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The picture quickly circulated on social media and drew comparisons to the infamous “Monkey Christ” restoration of 2013, when an elderly parishioner in a Spanish town attempted to restore a fresco of Jesus with similar levels of success.
Conservation experts in Spain have now called for a tightening of laws regarding restoration to prevent people from attempting to restore historic artworks without the skills needed to do so.
Fernando Carrera, professor at the Galician School for the Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage, told The Guardian: “I don’t think this guy – or these people – should be referred to as restorers. Let’s be honest: they’re bodgers who botch things up. They destroy things.”
He continued: “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?”