• The WTF Files

"It looks like Trump" Botched Restoration of Spanish Sculpture Draws Scrutiny in Spain

Following a botched restoration of a painting of the Virgin Mary in the city of Valencia earlier this year, another repair effort in Spain has become the subject of scrutiny. Images of a recent restoration job on figurative sculpture decorating a 20th-century building in the city of Palencia show significant changes to stone work’s facial features.

Botched restoration of a painting of the Virgin Mary in the city of Valencia.

According to a report by the Guardian, the sculpture previously depicted the face of a woman smiling, and now some are saying on social media that it looks like Donald Trump. The sculpture’s original distinguishing features appear to have been altered by the restoration effort.

Artist Antonio Guzmán Capel shared images of the sculpture on Facebook last Friday, writing that the restoration has made the work look “like a cartoon character” and comparing the restoration to the infamous “Monkey Christ” incident involving an attempted restoration of a fresco of Jesus Christ in Borja, Spain.

Canadian artist Heather Wise perhaps didn’t mean spiky-haired Lisa Simpson to be the final replacement for baby Jesus’ head that was vandalized in Ontario, but the image struck viral gold.

Restoration projects that leave artworks looking drastically changed have become something of a pattern in Spain in recent years.  When the Virgin Mary painting was altered twice by a furniture restorer in Valencia in June, experts revived calls for increased regulation of efforts related to the restoration of artworks.

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo/Public Domain (left) Photograph: Cedida por Coleccionista/Europa Press 2020

At the time, Fernando Carrera, a professor at the Galician School for the Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage, told the Guardian, “Can you imagine just anyone being allowed to operate on other people? Or someone being allowed to sell medicine without a pharmacist’s license? Or someone who’s not an architect being allowed to put up a building?”