A private art collector in Valencia, Spain paid €1,200 EUR ($1,355 USD) to restore an oil painting replica of a work by the famed Baroque artist Bartolomé Esteban Murillo. Despite two attempts to fix the piece, the religious subject in the composition has been left unrecognizable, as per The Guardian. The original work, entitled The Immaculate Conception of El Escorial, portrays the Virgin Mary and is currently housed in the Museo del Prado in Madrid.
The botched Murillo restoration has been compared to previous, unsuccessful restoration projects in Spain. In 2012, an elderly parishioner tried to restore a famed fresco of Jesus Christ at her local church near Zaragoza. Her amateurish repair led to the painting being called Monkey Christ. Moreover, a 16th-Century statue of St George at a church in Navarre also made headlines following a lackluster restoration job, with some critics describing its new appearance as a Playmobile figure. There is currently no law in Spain that prohibits people — including those without the necessary skills — from restoring artworks.
Conservation experts in Spain are now urging for strict regulations on restoration projects. In a public statement, the country’s Professional Association of Restorers and Conservators (Acre) detested the lack of legal protections, and called the Murillo incident an act of “vandalism.” “This lack of regulation translates into an absence of protection of our heritage,” said Acre. “In recent years, conservation-restoration professionals have been forced to emigrate or leave their professions due to a lack of opportunities.”
In other news, a public protest letter was recently issued by current and former employees of New York museums urging these institutions to rectify in-house racial disparities and more.