5 clumsy art restorations that will make you laugh

Art restoration is good… an art. And when it goes wrong, it really goes wrong. The latest clumsy work to make headlines is the restoration of The Birth of Piero della Francesca, described by The Guardian’s Jonathan Jones as “a pastiche of Renaissance art by a very cheap, very bad practice.” This latest failure has drawn more outrage because it wasn’t done by an inexperienced restorer who took a chance with our how-to series, but rather was brought back to life by the team at the British National Gallery.

The new version of a shepherd’s “empty and grumpy, even constipated” not only made us giggle while drinking our coffee, it also reminded us that art restoration had gone wrong or gone too well in one case. feels wrong. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite artwork restoration failures below for your viewing pleasure.

01. The Monkey Jesus disaster

Before and after (Image credit: Center de Estudios Borjanos / Cecilia Giménez)

Known as ‘Jesus the Monkey’, this disastrous restoration took place when 81-year-old Cecilia Giménez undertook to ‘rescue’ a fresco painted by Elías García Martínez in 1930 that hung in her local church. Giménez had not actually finished the restoration, when a local history society came across the artifact and brought it to the attention of the world media. With the face of Jesus seemingly transformed into a monkey, this was the unsuccessful restoration of the internet age OG. A lot of joy and memes followed the revelation.

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