From 2012's infamous 'Monkey Jesus' to this year's abominable touching up of Murillo's Immaculate Conception, Spain has seen its fair share of botched art restorations recently – often to the delight of the internet. Yet another disaster has emerged, and it might just be the worst (or is that best?) of the bunch.
A carved figure adorning an early 20th-century building in Palencia has received a rather terrifying face-lift, transforming it from smiling woman to, well, we're not entirely sure. The only thing that is certain is that the so-called restorer could do with giving our art techniques guide a look.
Is it one of Star Wars' sand people? Is it Donald Trump (below)? Is it an entirely new species of human (crossed with melted cheese)? According to Spanish newspaper The Local (opens in new tab), social media users in Spain have had a field day with the sculpture, comparing its new look with everything from plasticine to pond life.
"The pictures are a bit blurry," said Facebook user Antonio Guzmán Capel (opens in new tab), the first to share photos of the monstrosity online. “But you can see it looks like the head of a cartoon character.”
Sí, ha vuelto a ocurrir. #Palencia tiene ya su propio #eccehomo Sospecho que la restauradora igual era pro #Trump 🤦🏻♂️ y se ha dejado llevar por la emoción de estos días en las #EleccionesEEUU pic.twitter.com/sXS0H2AJxgNovember 10, 2020
While it isn't clear who is responsible for the botched statue, it's proving yet another headache for Spain’s Professional Association of Restorers and Conservators. The organisation tweeted (below) to inform followers that this is "NOT a professional restoration" (just in case anyone was unsure).
ESTO #NoEsRestauración. Es una intervención NO profesional.👎 Polémica en Palencia por una restauración que deja hecho un «cristo» el relieve de una fachada https://t.co/18pEBXjKH4November 9, 2020
Indeed, despite the online mirth caused by failed restorations, the Association of Restorers and Conservators isn't laughing. Back when The Immaculate Conception received its less-than-immaculate new paint job in June (below), the organisation lamented that the "lack of legal protections" for art (anyone can legally restore an artwork, regardless of their experience), was responsible for several acts of "vandalism" – no matter how well-intentioned.
But even professional restorations can yield surprising results. This January, a restoration of 15th Century painting The Ghent Altarpiece revealed that it had been painted over in the 16th Century – hiding a lamb with a strange, sassy face.
Time will tell whether Palencia's Trump-esque statue will gain a 'Monkey Jesus' level of notoriety – but it'll certainly be haunting our nightmares for the next few days. Or until the next botched restoration comes along.
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