‘Behold the Monkey’? Amateur art restoration goes awry in Spain


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Art experts are trying to salvage a beloved Spanish fresco of Jesus Christ that was disfigured by an amateur restoration that went miserably awry.

Spanish media reported that an elderly woman, upset by the deterioration of the aging 19th century fresco in the Sanctuary of Mercy Church in the town of Borja, decided to fix it.


The unhappy results were perhaps most memorably compared to ‘a crayon sketch of a very hairy monkey in an ill-fitting tunic’ by the BBC. Spanish jokesters have christened the revamped work once known as ‘Ecce Homo’ -– Behold the Man -– as ‘Ecce Mono’ -– Behold the Monkey.

Taking a more sober tone, the Centro de Estudios Borjanos described as ‘“unspeakable’ its first sight of the redone fresco weeks ago, while doing an inventory of religious art in the area. Though the fresco is not believed to be unusually valuable, it was treasured in the town.

The family of the deceased painter, Elias Garcia Martinez, met with the mayor to express their shock and dismay and to explore the possibilities for legal action, the center said on its blog.

Churchgoer Cecilia Gimenez told Spanish television station TVE on Wednesday that the priest knew about her restoration efforts and that she had done nothing in secret, insisting, ‘Everyone that entered the church saw me painting!’

Though local officials say the would-be restorer had good intentions, they have not ruled out taking action against her for defacing the artwork, El Mundo reported.



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-- Emily Alpert in Los Angeles