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Boy Trips In Museum And Punches Hole Through 1 And A Half Million Dollar Painting
A 12-year-old Taiwanese boy lived out a slapstick nightmare at the weekend when he tripped at a museum and broke his fall with a painting, smashing a hole in it.
Exhibition organisers said the painting was a 350-year-old Paolo Porpora oil on canvas work called Flowers, valued at $1.5m.
Footage released by the organisers of the Face of Leonardo: Images of a Genius exhibition in Taipei shows the boy – in shorts, trainers, a blue Puma T-shirt and holding a drink – walk past the still life, catching his foot and stumbling over.
He looks up at the canvas, shown later to have a fist-sized gash at the bottom, and freezes, looking around at other people in the room.
The organizers will not ask the boy’s family to pay for the restoration costs, according to Focus Taiwan news. It said the exhibition organizer, Sun Chi-hsuan, said the boy was very nervous but should not be blamed and the painting, part of a private collection, was insured.
“The painting’s bottom right is damaged,” Sun later told reporters. “The boy’s hand made contact with the artwork and left a hole the size of a fist.”
The exhibition, which also includes portraits of Leonardo, shows 55 paintings in Taiwan “gathered from the finest art collectors in the world”, according to the organisers.
“All 55 paintings in the venue are authentic pieces and they are very rare and precious,” a post on the exhibition’s Facebook page said. “Once these works are damaged, they are permanently damaged.”
Porpora was a leading still life artist who produced baroque-style paintings, often of fruit and flowers. The damaged work, 200cm tall, depicts flowers in a vase.
Sun dismissed later reports in Taiwanese media that the damaged art might in fact be a painting from another 17th-century Italian painter, Mario Nuzzi, valued only at about €30,000 (£22,000).
“There is nothing to respond to. Of course they are different,” he was quoted in Focus Taiwan news as saying.
The Web Gallery of Art, a database of European fine art, said Flowers was the only Porpora work that is signed and was painted in about 1660. Porpora was born in Naples but moved to Rome, where he worked for the Chigi family.
Tsai Shun-Jen, the chief conservator, said the painting was very fragile due to its age. “When we start working on the painting’s restoration, the priority is to strengthen its structure, not retouching the paint on the damaged area,” he said.
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