Restoring a piece of treasured art is no small task. You not only have to have the artistic chops, but you have to know the history and style of the original painting. Then, you have to match the style of the artist, who has more than likely been dead for dozens, if not hundreds of years.
It’s understandable why some great painting and statue restoration projects have gone awry. I certainly couldn’t do what these brave artists do! That being said, there are some restoration fails that truly boggle the mind.
This has been universally acknowledged as the worst art restoration ever. I almost feel sorry for the lady who worked on it. They say any press is good press, but that can’t be the legacy she wanted to leave behind! However, this woman had no background in art or art history, so it’s not surprising the piece didn’t turn out exactly as planned.
This particular painting quickly gained notoriety thanks to images going viral on social media. The embarrassing restoration inspired memes, cosplay, and even tattoos to commemorate the gigantic fail. While the restoration itself is bad enough, I can’t imagine purposefully getting a tattoo of it! To each their own, I suppose.
The fresco painting of Jesus, originally done by Elias Garcia Martinez, was “restored” in 2012. The painting was on display in a cathedral in a small town in Spain, but it started to peel, leaving Jesus looking a little patchy in places. A local 81-year-old woman, Cecilia Jimenez, volunteered to restore the painting to its former glory.
As you can see, things got out of hand quickly. In an interesting turn of events, however, the failed restoration ended up bringing tens of thousands of tourists to the cathedral to witness the now infamous painting. The church leaned into their newfound popularity, even selling mugs, t-shirts, and other items bearing the image of the botched Jesus. With the extra money this painting brings in, the church is able to fund a home for senior citizens.
Saint George Statue
Here is another unfortunate “restoration” found in Spain. This statue of Saint George slaying a dragon has been at the Saint Michael Estella church for nearly 500 years. Understandably, the 16th-century statue had some wear and tear over the years.
In 2018, one over-zealous art teacher took it upon herself to put a fresh coat of paint on the statue. I’m not sure what she was thinking when she was picking out the colors or working on restoring poor Saint George’s face, but the end result leaves the statue looking like a hungover McDonald’s toy.
It was so bad, the mayor had to step in and take control of the situation since the previously beloved and famous statue was now a laughingstock. To make matters worse, the art teacher used the wrong kind of paint! Experts feared her misstep would destroy the layers of original paint. Case in point, leave the restoration to the experts.
Speaking of, a team of actual restoration experts and artists ended up taking on the project of undoing the damage and doing the restoration the proper way. It wasn’t a charitable act, however. In the end, the art teacher’s painting fail cost $34,000 to fix.
Technicolor Spanish Statues
Poor Spain and their religious artworks! You’d think this particular parishioner who green-lighted the amateur restoration of these 15th-century wooden statues would have learned from the Saint George debacle only a few months prior, but apparently not.
This garish interpretation of several of these wooden statues was done by a local tobacco shop owner, Maria Louisa Menendez. A strange choice for this particular undertaking, that’s for sure. What’s even stranger is that these wooden statues were painstakingly restored by a professional, Luis Suárez Saro, in 2002.
I think you’ll agree that Maria certainly lived up to her promise of adding color. A little too much color. It’s unclear why she chose hot pink for Mary’s robes or neon green for baby Jesus’ clothing. Add in the dark red and light teal, and this color clashing combo makes for an incredible eyesore.
The colors aren’t the only astonishing artistic choice made during this unfortunate restoration. Maria added thick makeup to the statues as well. Heavy eyeliner, drawn-on eyebrows, and dark lipstick now grace the faces of these once naturally beautiful statues. When asked about the restoration, Maria simply said that she’s not a professional. There’s no arguing with that!