Spain is no stranger to bad art restoration. In 2012, the notoriously terrible – and now widely-loved – restoration of a fresco of Jesus Christ, in the northern town of Borja, became a viral sensation, known as “monkey Christ”. More recently, an effigy of St George in Estella won the mocking nickname “Tintin St George” on account of its uncanny resemblance to the comic book character.
There is now a new addition to the pantheon of bad Spanish restorations, a niche but important canon.
The town of Palencia, in northern Spain, attempted to restore a statue of a smiling woman, surrounded by livestock, that adorned the side of an early 20th century building.
As you can see, the results are… mixed. Given that the viral fame of “monkey Christ” led to a significant tourism boost for Borja, it’s enough to make you wonder: is this restoration deliberately bad?
The statue has been met with widespread mockery on social media, with many suggesting the new version resembles Donald Trump. This seems like a bit of a stretch; really, it more closely resembles a generic paper mâché head that a seven-year-old would make in a primary school art class.
The reaction in Palencia itself has been particularly damning. One resident posted on Facebook, “I’m sure whoever did it got paid for it. But the bigger crime was committed by the person who commissioned it and then tried to carry on as though nothing was wrong.” He added, “It looks like a cartoon character.”
Hopefully, the money brought in via this new ironic tourist attraction will, in time, soothe Palencia’s anger.