Move over, Monkey Jesus: Spanish furniture restorer botches restoration of baroque art Immaculate Conception

A famous painting of the Immaculate Conception by baroque artist Bartolome Esteban Murillo has become the newest in a long line of botched art restorations in Spain.

Murillo's painting was reportedly cleaned by a furniture collector for 1,200 euros, according to The Guardian. But despite two efforts to restore the work to its original state, the face of the Virgin Mary is now unrecognisable - causing outrage in the Spanish art conservation community and beyond.

"I don't think this guy - or these people - should be referred to as restorers," Fernando Carrera, former president of Spain's Professional Association of Restorers and Conservators told the Guardian.

"Let's be honest: They're bodgers who botch things up. They destroy things."

On social media, the Murillo repair was inevitably compared to other disappointing art restorations from recent years -- such as 2012 work on Ecce Homo fresco of Jesus Christ dubbed "Monkey Jesus," or work on a 16th-century wooden Saint George statue, which in 2018 was described as resembling a cartoon character.

The continuing history of failed repairs like these has led experts to stress the importance of training and increased regulations surrounding art restoration.

"We cannot tolerate more attacks on our cultural heritage," ACRE said in a statement after the St. George restoration attempt. "It shows a frightening lack of training of the kind required for this sort of job."

Europa Press, which first broke the news of the Murillo restoration, spoke to Maria Borja, vice president of Internal Relations and coordinator of ACRE.

"The Heritage Law itself does not specifically oblige or recommend that the interventions be carried out by professionals trained in conservation-restoration," Borja told Europa Press. "This lack of legislation leads to disastrous interventions that occasionally come to us, especially alarming when it comes to Romanesque carvings or Renaissance images of great value."


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