Virgin Mary’s face is left botched in painting restoration disaster in Spain

An art collector in Spain was shocked after the face of the Virgin Mary in a copy of a 17th centuy painting they paid to have restored was left unrecognisable – despite two attempts to fix it.

The private collector, in Valencia, is said to have paid a furniture restorer 1,200 euros (£1,080) to carry out work on the copy of The Immaculate Conception of Los Venerables by the baroque artist Bartolomé Esteban Murillo.

However, the restorer’s first effort was a disaster, leaving Mary’s face disfigured, and the subsequent attempt to correct it just made it worse. 

Conservation experts in Spain have now called for a tightening of laws regarding restoration following the botched job. 

The private collector, in Valencia, is said to have paid a furniture restorer 1,200 euros (£1,080) to carry out work on the copy of The Immaculate Conception of Los Venerables by the baroque artist Bartolomé Esteban Murillo

An art collector in Spain was shocked after the face of the Virgin Mary in a copy of a 17th centuy painting they paid to have restored was left unrecognisable – despite two attempts to fix it. The private collector, in Valencia, is said to have paid a furniture restorer 1,200 euros (£1,080) to carry out work on the copy of The Immaculate Conception of Los Venerables by the baroque artist Bartolomé Esteban Murillo

The restorer's first effort was a disaster, leaving Mary's face disfigured, and the subsequent attempt to correct it just made it worse

The restorer’s first effort was a disaster, leaving Mary’s face disfigured, and the subsequent attempt to correct it just made it worse

Fernando Carrera, a professor at the Galician School for the Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage, said that such work should only be performed by trained restorers.

‘I don’t think this guy – or these people – should be referred to as restorers… they’re bodgers who botch things up. They destroy things,’ he told The Guardian.

Carrera, a former president of Spain’s Professional Association of Restorers and Conservators (Acre), added: ‘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?’ 

He also said that part of the problem was that some politicians ‘just don’t give a t*ss about heritage’. 

The incident is reminiscent of another now infamous restoration of a painting in the town of Borja, northern Spain, which came to be known as ‘Beast Jesus’. 

On that occasion, pensioner Cecilia Giménez took it upon herself – apparently with the permission of the priest – to touch up the ‘Ecce Homo’ (Behold The Man) painting that was stationed in the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Mercy church.

The original was drawn by Elías Garcia Martínez, a Zaragoza art professor, but neglect in preserving the portrait stung Mrs Giménez into action. The painting is a 120-year-old fresco.

However, her brushwork completely obliterated the face of Jesus, transforming the painting into what locals described more like a hedgehog or monkey than Jesus. 

Murillo’s original Immaculate Conception – commissioned for a priests’ residence

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo painted the original Immaculate Conception between 1660 and 1665, as an oil on canvas.

The artwork depicted the Virgin dressed in blue and white, with her hands crossed over her bosom as she looked towards the heavens while she stood on the moon.

It was commissioned by Justino de Neve for the Hopital de los Venerables Sacerdoes in Seville – which served as a residence for priests.

Murillo was the leading painter in Seville in the later 17th century – and remained one of the most admired and popular of all European artists in the 18th and early 19th centuries. 

His early works were much influenced by the early works of Velazquez, executed before Velázquez left Seville in 1623, and by the paintings of Zurbaran.

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo painted the original Immaculat Conception (pictured) between 1660 and 1665, as an oil on canvas

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo painted the original Immaculat Conception (pictured) between 1660 and 1665, as an oil on canvas

 

 

The elderly restorer who turned a painting of Jesus into a ‘hairy monkey’  

The botched restoration of a painting that was labelled ‘Beast Jesus’ has incredibly attracted a huge upsurge in tourism to a tiny Spanish village over the years.

In August 2013, Cecilia Giménez, 82, took it upon herself, she says with the permission of the priest, to touch up the ‘Ecce Homo’ (Behold The Man) painting that was stationed in the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Mercy church in Borja, northern Spain.

The original was drawn by Elías Garcia Martínez, a Zaragoza art professor, but neglect in preserving the portrait stung Mrs Giménez into action. The painting is a 120-year-old fresco.

Pensioner Cecilia Giménez took it upon herself - apparently with the permission of the priest - to touch up the 'Ecce Homo' (Behold The Man) painting that was stationed in the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Mercy church in Borja, northern Spain

Pensioner Cecilia Giménez took it upon herself – apparently with the permission of the priest – to touch up the ‘Ecce Homo’ (Behold The Man) painting that was stationed in the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Mercy church in Borja, northern Spain

However, her brushwork completely obliterated the face of Jesus, transforming the painting into what locals described more like a hedgehog or hairy monkey rather than Jesus.

But since the makeover, the restoration has attracted 150,000 tourists from all over the world, with people paying 80p (1 euro) to view the ‘masterpiece’.

Speaking after news of her work broke, Mrs Giménez told Spanish TV: ‘We have always repaired everything ourselves here. The priest knew about it. Of course he did.

‘How could I do something like that without permission? I did not do it in secret. Anybody who entered the church was able to see me painting.

‘I had nothing but good intentions and always believed I was doing the right thing. Besides, I hadn’t finished the painting!’

Her handiwork saw Giménez commissioned to design logos for the local winery, and the image of the new ‘face of Jesus’ adorns the town of 5,000’s lottery tickets.

Not everyone was happy with the developments. The grandchildren of the original artist sent a letter through a lawyer requesting the painting be destroyed as it brought shame on the original work and ‘damages the honour of the family’.

However, a professional study decided it was impossible to restore the piece – and in essence, Mrs Giménez’s painting has become a ‘new piece’.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk

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