Even in this modern world of Photoshop, CGI, and Instagram filters, not everyone can call themselves an artist. When hobbyists try to restore traditional masterpieces, things often go wrong. The latest viral art fool comes from Valencia, Spain, where The Guardian reports that a private art collector had a cleaned copy of a Virgin Mary painting by Baroque artist Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, with disastrous results.
According to The Guardian, the collector hired a furniture restorer for the job, which was clearly not the right choice. Two separate attempts, both photographed for posterity, left the once impressive image of the Mother of Christ more like the results of one of those paint and drink parties.
“A Spanish collector was horrified after a ‘furniture restorer’ cleaned and retouched his Murillo,” growled a Twitter user. “But why would you use one, when you know that there are plumbers, dental technicians, and forestry workers clamoring for this type of work?”
This is not the first time that someone in Spain has tried to fix a classic work of art and it ends with a very different result. In 2012, a Spanish woman named Cecilia Giménez was commissioned to paint a fresco of Christ called “Ecce Homo” (“Behold the man”). The resulting before and after photos went viral, turned the city into a tourist attraction, and created a meme called Pope Jesus.
And in 2018, also in Spain, aIt was restored to look more like Nicolas Cage with a blank face, or perhaps Woody from Toy Story.
The BBC notes that there is no law in Spain that prohibits people from restoring works of art, and cited a statement by the country’s Professional Association of Restorers and Conservators, which called this latest incident an act of “vandalism”.
But a Twitter user felt that the classic image turned into cartoons might be the right one for this difficult year, writing, “a failed art restoration in Spain (painting of the Immaculate Conception of Murillo) feels on par for 2020.” .