Before and after the "restoration". Photo courtesy of Centro de estudios Borjanos.
On August 21, the Spanish press divulged that the author of what some have called the worst restoration in art history is a church parishioner in her eighties. Cecilia Giménez lives next to the church in Borja, northeastern Spain, on whose walls a XIXth century mural of Christ was painted. She was reportedly tired of seeing the painting deteriorate, year after year.
She says she took it upon herself to restore the mural, and did so with the church’s knowledge. “The priest knew all about it. How could I have done this without his permission?” she said in an interview with the TV station RTVE1. However, the city’s commissioner for the arts, Juan Maria Ojeda, claims that “she acted spontaneously, without asking for anyone’s permission.”
According to the newspaper “El Heraldo”, an investigation into the damage suffered by the painting is underway. It should determine whether or not it can be restored to its original state.
While the photos of this botched restoration horrified art lovers around the world, it has also inspired numerous jokes online, including dozens of digitally altered versions of the disfigured Christ.