A boy on Sunday put a hole in an extremely valuable Paolo Porpora painting at a Taipei exhibition after apparently tripping and trying to catch his balance on the artwork, according to closed-circuit TV footage provided by the organizers yesterday.
However, the 12-year-old boy might have gotten lucky, as the organizers do not plan to ask the boy’s family to cover the cost of restoring the painting, displayed as part of “The Face of Leonardo, Images of a Genius” exhibition at Huashan 1914 Creative Park.
According to Sun Chi-hsuan (孫紀璿), the head of exhibition co-organizer TST Art of Discovery Co, the 2m-tall painting is about 350 years old and valued at more than US$1.5 million.
In the footage, available at https://youtu.be/zz_7Q-yxLF4, the 12-year-old can be seen tripping on a barrier while walking past the 17th-century oil painting Flowers.
As he stumbled toward the painting, holding what appears to be a soft drink, he extended his arms to keep from falling, making contact with the picture and leaving a hole the size of a fist, organizers said.
Exhibition curator Andrea Rossi was shocked after hearing about the incident on Sunday, Sun said, adding that Rossi, after assessing the damaged painting, said that it could be repaired and that a Taiwanese art restorer yesterday afternoon had been called in to help with the work.
Sun said the boy was visiting the exhibition with his mother and was probably not aware of his surroundings because he was focused on a guided tour.
According to Sun, the boy is anxious over what happened, but Rossi asked that the boy not be blamed and that the family not be asked to pay for the cost of restoration.
Sun said the organizers would ask their insurance company to cover restoration costs and compensate the painting’s owner.
It is the first time that a valuable painting on loan in Taiwan has suffered such major damage.
The exhibition is displaying more than 50 original paintings by prominent artists from the Italian Renaissance to the 20th century, organizers said.
The exhibition was temporarily closed yesterday morning, before reopening in the afternoon.
“All 55 paintings in the venue are authentic pieces and they are very rare and precious. Once these works are damaged, they are permanently damaged ... we hope that everyone can protect these precious artworks with us,” TST Art of Discovery said on Facebook.
Sun said an 80cm distance was maintained between each painting and visitors so that people would not get too close to the artwork.
When the incident occurred, there were between 200 and 300 visitors in the venue, which was within the allowed limit, he said.
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