October 6, 2023

4 Spanish Restoration Fails

¡Ay, caramba! In art restoration, good intentions don't always lead to good results.

1. Elías García Martinez, “Ecce Homo (Monkey Christ)” (c. 1930)

Sanctuary of Mercy Church Borja, Spain

Initially suspected as vandalism, the alterations were instead the creation of an 81-year-old parishioner.

“They didn’t let me finish” - Cecilia Giménez

Remarkably, this restoration turned into a notorious attraction, ultimately revitalizing the struggling economy of the small Spanish town. The Sanctuary of Mercy Church in Borja had around 46,000 visits between August and December 2012.

2. Anonymous, “Religious Sculptures” (c. 15th century)

Chapel of Ranadoiro, Spain

A local tobacco shopkeeper took it upon herself to add some flair to the trio of 15th-century wooden sculptures using industrial enamel paint.

“I’m not a professional painter” Maria Luisa Menendez

The sculptures had been professionally restored just 15 years before but the parish priest apparently had given his blessing to the amateur.

3. Unknown, “Saint George” (c. 16th century)

Church of San Miguel de Estella, Navarre, Spain

 Unknown, “Saint George” (c. 16th century)

This 500-year-old sculpture of Saint George was turned into a cartoon character after the church hired a local teacher for the job.

 Unknown, “Saint George” (c. 16th century)

Re-restoring it cost $37,000! The church paid for the re-restoration to “somewhat” its original appearance.

3. ​​Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, Copy of “The Immaculate Conception of El Escorial” (c. 17th century)

Private collection, Valencia, Spain

Spanish amateur restoration’s latest victim...

In 2020, an art collector paid $1,200 for a furniture restorer to clean up his copy of The Immaculate Conception of El Escorial.

He Made 2 Attempts. But the restorer only took it from worse to worser.

Spanish paintings:

Some voices in Spain are now calling for tighter rules for art restoration...