In the past ten years, frequent incidents of destructive restoration of artworks have surprised and laughed at the majority of netizens. Among them, many failure cases occurred in Spain. Now, another artwork that has been damaged due to restoration has entered the public eye. A private collector in Valencia, Spain spent 1,200 Euros to clean and restore a portrait of the Virgin Mary. But when the painting was returned, Maria’s original delicate face had become completely unrecognizable. The second salvage restoration made the painting worse.
Murillo “Our Lady of the Immaculate”; after the first restoration.
After the second remedy (lower right)
A statement mentioned that the original painting may be a copy of Bartolome Esteban Murillo’s “Our Lady of the Immaculate”. However, experts from the Spanish Art Restoration and Conservation Association have not publicly explained the details of the matter. “If this matter is true, we have to once again deeply regret the loss of cultural heritage. Based on this situation, we ask everyone not to turn this incident into social media entertainment material again as we did last time.” It probably refers to the mural restoration event in 2012. At that time, the messed-up Jesus mural created a spoof frenzy on the Internet. “This incident also sounded the alarm for us. These catastrophic acts of destruction are making our cultural heritage gradually disappear.”
| The chaotic repair industry |
Broken mural; “Potato”? “monkey”?
For centuries, different peoples passing through Spain have left their own unique marks and relics, which makes Spain possess a lot of valuable cultural and historical heritage. Fernando Carrera, former president of the association and professor at the Galician School of Cultural Heritage Protection and Restoration, said: “This is our history.”
Cultural relics protection experts pointed out that this failed restoration highlights the need to strengthen the supervision of the restoration industry. Carrera said: “I don’t think this person or these people can be called restorers. To be honest, they are all tinkers and they mess up things. This is destroying things.” As Carrera said , Spanish law allows anyone to try to repair ancient works of art, even if they have not received professional cultural relic protection training. He also added: “Can you imagine that anyone can perform operations on others? Or anyone without a pharmacist’s license can sell medicine at will? Or a person who is not an architect is allowed to build a house? We need to build a house? Investment in protection, but before we talk about money, we should first make sure that all those engaged in restoration work have received professional training.”
Maria Borja, vice president of the association, also said: “Destructive restorations like Murillo’s paintings are too common. We have only seen cases exploded by newspapers or social media, but in many cases, a lot of restoration work has been done. It is done by people without professional training. These non-professional interventions are destructive to the artwork, and the loss is irreversible.”
The dragon slayer who has experienced catastrophe; Ding Ding
| Tintin Dragon Slayer |
In the summer of 2018, a 500-year-old statue of Saint George in northern Spain became popular on the Internet due to a restoration project. The excessive contrast between before and after the restoration caused widespread criticism. Many people pointed out that this kind of repair made the wooden statue look more like Tintin in The Adventures of Tintin than the legendary dragon slayer.
Fortunately, an “unrepaired” project costing about 34,000 US dollars helped this statue in the church of San Michele in the province of Navarre restore its appearance in the 16th century. Experts from the local cultural department stripped off the gorgeous lacquer on its surface, evaluated the damage caused by inferior restoration materials and poor craftsmanship, and finally restored the walnut icon to its pre-2018 state.
But Carlos Arava, the head of the historical heritage department, said: “Although the color of the statue now looks the same as before it was destroyed, some of the original color has been completely lost. From a distance, there is indeed no difference. , But when you get closer, you can still tell at a glance which parts are the back-ups.”
| Disaster turns into a miracle |
This is also reminiscent of another famous failed restoration case in Spain-the fresco of “Jesus wearing the crown of thorns” in the church of Borja. The mural quickly became popular after the well-intentioned “beautification” of the local resident Cecilia Ximenez.
This mural created by the painter Elias Martinez in the 1930s depicts Jesus wearing a crown of thorns before being crucified. Due to the dampness, the frescoes in the church have begun to peel and need urgent repairs. But as many netizens have seen, Jimenez, who has not received any professional training, makes the restored Jesus look more like a potato or a monkey.
Many failed restorations of ancient paintings have caused irreparable losses. But in Borja town, things have at least a relatively pleasant turnaround: the public is so interested in the disfigured Jesus fresco that thousands of tourists come here to see it. This bad restoration project unexpectedly revitalized the local tourism industry. In the incident, Jimenez also gained attention and planned to sell an original painting online for $1,400.
Andrew Fleck and his companions created a comedy opera specifically for this mural restoration event. He said: “The path of life is mysterious and unpredictable. Your disaster may be my miracle.”