|Mondo Bizarro||Jun 23 2020|
Another valuable Spanish painting is ruined by someone who's all thumbs and no skills.
Spanish art restorers are in the news for the wrong reasons again. You may remember the infamous Ecce Homo disfigurement—the early 20th century fresco by Elías García Martínez that was ruined by amateur restorer Cecilia Giménez. The restoration, which took place in the town of Borja, was so botched that many Spaniards stopped referring to the painting as Ecce Homo—“Behold Man”—in favor of Ecce Mono—“Behold Monkey.” We've posted its Christ figure, angelic before, and afflicted after, below. We think the name change fits, though we think the after Christ also looks a bit like Leatherface.
The Ecce Homo fiasco soon grew to exemplify the divergent incentives of the modern world. The painting was destroyed. Its destruction turned the painting and the town of Borja into a tourist attraction. The restorer now claims she's proud of her work because of the money that tourists bring which can be used for good causes. The fact that these calamity tourists are posing with the painting only because it looks like Giménez restored it using a brush held between her ass cheeks is now immaterial. Only money matters. The money made has absolved her of responsibility for ruining the art.
The latest incident involves a more-than-century-old copy of Bartolomé Esteban Murillo's baroque painting La Inmaculada del Escorial, which you see at top. An art collector in Valencia hired a furniture restorer to clean the painting, but the face of the Virgin Mary was damaged. The collector then hired an art restorer to repair the damage, was forced to hire a second to fix the damage done by the first, and, well, see below. Now look up top again. Now look below.
Yeah, that actually happened. We can't figure out how the second restorer made the painting look even less like the original than the first restorer. Did they not understand why they had been hired? These paintings aren't pulp art, but their destruction is like something from a comical crime novel. Not surprisingly, some Spaniards also consider these blunders criminal, and are now calling for regulation of the art restoration sector, and who can blame them?
Spanish art experts say botched restorations are more common than people know. We searched around and found a couple more, also hilariously awful (see the sculpture of St. George from the town of Estella, below). Generally, these incidents only become public when they're reported to the press or on social media, which isn't the norm, considering the embarrassment involved. But we can't help wondering if, going forward, ancient artworks will be deliberately ruined as a ploy to generate calamity tourism. We wouldn't put it past people. Maybe Behold Monkey should be renamed again, to Behold Money. Maybe Jesus has shown the way—to financial salvation.