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Spanish Painting Of Virgin Mary Is Virtually Unrecognizable After Yet Another Botched Restoration Attempt

Witthaya Prasongsin / Getty images

Art restoration is a complicated subject. Philosophically, is it right to clean and touch up a masterpiece? Does it inherently change the original artist when we do this?

However, the more pressing issue for the general public is less on the theoretical and more on the practical. Namely, why do we continue with art restoration when it seems like we constantly mess it up?

The botched restoration of Jesus from 2012 now has a Virgin Mary to match.

The painting is "The Immaculate Conception of El Escorial" by the artist BartolomΓ© Esteban Murillo. It is owned by a private collector.

The anonymous owner paid to have the image cleaned up by a furniture restorer and despite the cost of $1350, didn't seem to get the level of service he paid for.

The painting was warped from a perfect image of a young girl into a parody of the thought. From there it was mangled further to a child's drawing you'd expect to see in crayon.

It is... a lot worse than anyone expected.




As stated earlier, this botched restoration has drawn comparisons to the 2012 amateur restoration of "Ecce Homo" (Behold the Man), an oil painting of Jesus Christ that ended up looking like a shaven monkey.

However, that instance at least had the excuse of the restorer not asking for permission before working. Cecilia Gimenez tried to undo the damage of time to the painting, and set about to fix it in secret.

When she realized that plan was a huge mistake, it was already too late.

While the newly rechristened "Ecce Mono" (Behold the Monkey) became an internet joke and reminder of a destroyed piece of art, it also provided a positive.

Its infamy made it a tourist attraction, and raised thousands of dollars for local charities from tourists.

So the painting of the Virgin Mary becoming a joke might not be the worst thing in the world.




Instances such as these have gained worldwide attention due to their viral nature for online jokes. However, these kinds of botched restoration attempts are more common than you'd think.

The Professional Association of Conservative Restorers of Spain seek more regulation in instances of art restoration to prevent things like this from happening.

MarΓ­a Borja, a vice president of the Valencia chapter of the organization spoke with Europa Press about this issue.

Borja said,

"We only know the cases that society denounces through the press or social networks, but there are a multitude of situations where the works are intervened by people without training."
"The works undergo this type of non-professional intervention, possibly causing an irreversible change."

If changes aren't made to the regulations of art restoration, it's possible we might see more situations like this arise.

Which would be heartbreaking for art, but a field day for memes.