“Restored” Painting of Christ in Spain - “Behold, the Monkey!”Isn’t there a movie or skit of Mr. Bean cleaning and then retouching apainting?! I never thought we’d see the real deal. Last week as this storyleaked out onto the international news networks, I began having peoplemention this “news item” to me. When the number inquiring what I thoughtgrew to 9, I began keeping a tally. The number of people that have nowcontacted me regarding my thoughts on this story is 31!This seems like a funny news item to “go international.” I mean, the image ofthe “art restoration” is an attention getter but… you should know that thistype of thing happens ALL THE TIME!Actually there are two parts of the discussion I’ve been privy to: theinternational layman’s discussion in the news and a private discussion amongother professional art conservators on the net. My point of view is that I can’tbelieve this merits anyone’s time or attention.In case you’ve missed what we’re talking about, here’s the before and afterphoto of a painting restoration job in Spain of an Old Master painting of Christwhere an old woman “restored” the flaking picture belonging to a church. Some people have re-titled the restored painting “Behold, the Monkey!”As I said before, this isn’t such an uncommon thing and something horrificusually happens when do-it-your-selfers start restoring historical items
(there are standards, guidelines, ethics to follow). For example, I wasconducting a tour of my lab and was demonstrating how I use thestereobinocular microscope to get a very close/accurate look when I test thedissolving power of solvents for cleaning a painting. One of the attendeeslooked at the bottle of solvent I was utilizing, and asked if that was what Iwould use to clean the picture. I said no because it would damage the originalpaint I was testing. A couple of days later, this man comes back to the lab witha gorgeous $35,000 picture he had tried to clean with the solvent I was testingin the lab. He had ruined the painting by dissolving off the original paint. Iirritatingly told him what he had done to this wonderful work of art and itsmonetary value. He got mad at me and said it was MY FAULT cause I had nottaught him how to properly do it! He never lets anybody fix his stuff cause hedoes everything himself. I kicked him out of my lab… the only person in mylife that has ever been “escorted out” of my lab.Here’s another example of an inept “restoration” that is in my lab right now.The face on the right is original and the face on the left has been previouslyrepainted for the purpose of “restoration.” While its better than a monkeyface, it still is a laugh:There is a funny side to the story of "Behold the Monkey": the church isgetting more visitors than ever and they may consider it has more value in itspresent repainted “look.” Heres the video link. I’ve never seen so muchattention given to conservation before in such an amusing way...
http://video.msnbc.msn.com/nbcnews.com/48803079So, this item is becoming valuable as what?? A sideshow attraction?? Theprofessional art conservation field has gone hyper-sensitive at this thought! Ifthe public starts looking at bad restoration as an art form, it could begin ashock wave of reckless vandalism… the end of civilization as we know it!!!!!!“Can this ruined work of art be recouped?” Fair question. Well, yes but theprice for proper, safe art conservation treatments has just sky rocketed; Thesad fact we see often is that about 80% of the items that come into our labhave been goofed with in the not too distant past… and some of them comedirectly from the “restorer” to be fixed by our lab... on the same day! In this casewe charge, of course, for the time and effort to take off any previous bungledrestorations. You pay for other’s sins (in keeping with the message of thisbugled restoration of the painting of Christ). Art conservation – restoration questions? Call Scott M. Haskins 805 564 3438 Art appraisal questions? Call Richard Holgate 805 895 5121 What can you do at home? See videos on YouTube Channel PreservationCoach: http://www.youtube.com/user/PreservationCoach?feature=mhee http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7lCx-xg4BMY Short video of how all photos, scrapbooks, documents, family history AND THE BACKUP COPIES were lost in a house fire. Leave a coment! See a tour of Fine Art Conservation Laboratories (CLICK HERE) Leave a comment. Follow us on Facebook. Click on one of these links and be our friend: http://www.facebook.com/SaveYourStuff http://www.facebook.com/FineArtConservation