The restorers’ task is to revive dilapidated and damaged works of art. This work is creative, but not simple: one wrong move and the masterpiece is ruined. Unfortunately, mistakes are inevitable.
We’ve rounded up some sensational cases where the restoration went wrong.
7. A Spoiled Fresco
The most sensational case of a failed restoration occurred in Spain. 80-year-old Cecilia Jimenez volunteered to restore the mural with the image of Jesus in a local cathedral.
But for some reason, it was nothing like the original. Perhaps the elderly woman’s eyesight failed her.
You can argue over and over whether Cecilia is to blame or not. On the one hand, the fresco was spoiled. On the other hand, the cathedral became world-famous, and Cecilia is now called the new Goya.
6. Fresco Characters Lost Their Eyes
The restoration of the fresco in the Sistine Chapel was the most extensive restoration work of the 20th century. But many art critics believe it was unsuccessful.
When the masters were cleaning the soot, they touched the top layer of the frescoes, those with corrections by Michelangelo himself. As a result, some of the characters even lost their sight.
5. Berlusconi’s Fantasy
In 2010, workers installed statues of Mars and Venus (around AD 175) in front of the home of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. The statues were found with missing body parts.
Berlusconi ordered that they be restored. It turned out fine, but art critics did not like the prime minister’s impulse.
It is believed that remodeling monuments however one pleases are akin to vandalism because we do not know how the figures looked originally. After this criticism, Mars and Venus returned to their initial state.
4. A Lightened Painting
The Virgin and Child with St. Anne by Leonardo da Vinci was restored and came out much lighter. If dark and cloudy shadows previously prevailed, now the painting is dominated by bright colors, as if the action happened on a sunny day. According to experts, this is contrary to da Vinci’s opinion.
Some experts from the Louvre Committee have even quit their jobs in protest of this restoration. But is the work of restorers really so bad?
3. The Great Wall Of China
The Great Wall of China is the largest architectural monument on Earth and, unfortunately, it is also slowly decaying.
Several years ago, restorers unsuccessfully rebuilt one of the most beautiful sections of the 780-meter-long wall, simply covering it with a layer of concrete.
The case is under investigation and the rest of the wall will be restored more carefully.
2. Castle of Matrera
The reconstruction of the old Matrera fortress in Spain was very controversial: the tower began to look too modern.
It turned out that the restorer, Carlos Quevedo, wanted to make clear which parts of the fort are new and which are ancient.
Incidentally, Architizer, a licensed community of architects, sided with Quevedo. But the residents were still not happy.
1. Tutankhamun’s Beard
In 2014, an employee at the Cairo Museum dropped a 10-pound (10 kg) Tutankhamun gold mask and his beard came out of the relic.
Instead of looking for professionals, the woman turned to her husband, a restaurateur.
He stuck the beard back on with superglue. Also, he chose the wrong angle. At the same time, he glued Tutankhamun’s chin and decided to shave and scratch. Fortunately, the mask has recently been restored properly.