Behold The ‘Potato Head’ Of Palencia Joins ‘Behold The Monkey!’ In The Hall Of Fame Of Spanish Notable Art Restorations


Behold The ‘Potato Head’ Of Palencia Joins ‘Behold The Monkey!’ In The Hall Of Fame Of Spanish Notable Art Restorations

Another Botched Art Restoration A melted face with two round cavities standing in for eyes, a misshapen lump approximating a nose, and an agape maw of a mouth: The latest art “restoration” gone completely wrong in Spain. I think Anastasia enjoyed rubbing this in the face of Prado establishment and kicking up the dirt. I’d love to take her out to lunch for a chat. This is cultural anarchy with a full-on dose of the Chinese Plague.

As the blog post points out, repaintings… even poor quality repaintings are not totally uncommon. At one time, I remember in our art conservation lab, we had 4 or 5 in at one time. But understand clearly… any type of repainting, good quality or bad, is ethically abhorred by professional painting conservators, scholars, auction houses, art galleries, museum curators and directors and private collectors who prefer the “real thing.” Even this painting, which was ‘just’ the family heirloom of their grandmother were horrified when it came back from a 3 year restoration by a “qualified” immigrated Russian restorer who had worked at the Hermitage. She (the restorer) was naturally proud of her work and wanted full payment!

After restoration was, presumably, done because she (the restorer) couldn’t get the original painting clean enough to look good, so…

The Palencia “restoration” is the latest in an infamous line of nonprofessional art rehabs in Spain, including a 2012 repainting of a 19th-century fresco of Jesus, done by an 81-year-old church member, that gained the unfortunate international nickname of “Monkey Christ.”

More recent incidents in Spain include a day-glo repainting of a 15th century wooden sculpture of the Virgin Mary, St. Anne and the infant Jesus; the redoing of a 500-year-old St. George figure that turned him into a toy soldier; and multiple failed attempts to give the Virgin Mary a makeover in a copy of a painting by the Baroque artist Bartolomé Esteban Murillo.

The Palencia statue, which formerly was of a smiling lady placed within a country scene, adorns part of the facade of a bank in this city of some 78,000 in the country’s north. The Art Newspaper reports that the statue was originally unveiled in 1923.

In Spain, professional art restorers and conservationists are once again calling for stricter oversight. On social media———– (censured), the Madrid-based organization of professional restorers and conservators, ACRE, deplored the work in Palencia, writing that the rehab was not professional.

Scott M. Haskins, Art Conservator,,  805 570 4140

About Scott M. Haskins

Scott Haskins has been in professional art conservation since 1975, specializing in the conservation/restoration of easel paintings, murals and art on paper. FACL, Inc. is known nationally for doing A+ work no matter the size or difficulty of the project. We are happy to do a quick cleaning on a family heirloom. Our client list and resume is also full of very satisfied clients of large, difficult/complicated projects at remote locations. Excellent services are also available as an Expert Witness/Legal Testimony in art related matters. Consultation on art related projects occur regularly including extensive insurance evaluations for insured or insurer. Services are offered worldwide. Scott M. Haskins is also author of the "Save Your Stuff" series, educational information, materials and supplies to help people protect and save their treasured family heirlooms and collectibles at home and office. He can be reached at 805 564 3438. Video and written testimonials at
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