While visiting the exhibition “The Face of Leonardo: Images of a Genius” at the Taipei-based museum Huashan 1914 Creative Park over the weekend, a 12-year-old Taiwanese boy caught his foot on a barrier and tumbled into a 350-year old oil painting, putting a small fist-sized hole into the bottom half of the canvas.
The boy was visiting the museum with his mother on a guided tour of the exhibition, which includes a selection of 55 rare artworks culled from between the Italian Renaissance and the 20th century. The painting, Flowers by Paolo Porpora, is valued at $1.5 million, according to The Guardian. The organizer of the exhibition, Sun Chi-hsuan, said the boy was very nervous but will not have to pay for the work. The damaged painting comes from a private collection and 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.” Porpora was a leading 17th century baroque painter specializing in floral still lifes. The artist was born in Naples but eventually moved to Rome, where he saw and was heavily influenced by Netherlandish still-life painters. Tsai Shun-Jen, the museum’s 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. The exhibition’s curator, Andrea Rossi, will consider having the painting shipped back to Italy to be restored.