Church masterpiece 'restored' as Mr. Bean would do it
Pictures provided by the Center for Borja Studies show the original version of the painting Ecce Homo, by 19th-century painter Elias Garcia Martinez, from left, the deteriorated version the center recently documented, and the version "restored" by a parishioner.
August 23rd, 2012
10:54 AM ET

Church masterpiece 'restored' as Mr. Bean would do it

The efforts of an elderly parishioner to restore a 120-year-old fresco on a column inside a Spanish church have some wondering if a Mr. Bean movie was the inspiration for the effort.

The fresco, titled Ecce Homo (Behold the Man), is a depiction of Jesus Christ with a crown of thorns. It was painted on a wall of the Sanctuary of Mercy at Borja, near Zaragoza, Spain, by artist Elias Garcia Martinez more than a century ago.

Its troubling "restoration" occurred after the local Center for Borja Studies received the donation of a canvas done by Garcia from one his granddaughters who lives nearby, according to the center's blog.

Center staff noted that the only other known work by Garcia in the area was Ecce Homo, went to the church to photograph the fresco, and realized it was in bad shape.

Parishioner Cecilia Giménez said she was asked by the church to fix things up.

“The priest was aware … he knew,” she is quoted as saying in a report on “Of course I did it because I was told to do it."

In its blog, the center expresses "astonishment" that "an intervention was done" on the painting.

"As unbelievable as it sounds, this is what remains of the work of an artist whose relatives still live in our city," the blog reads.

Giménez said her work was done in the open and nobody tried to stop her, according to Euronews.

"Everybody that came into the church saw me. I never tried to hide,” she is quoted as saying.

"Clearly, she has destroyed the painting," Garcia's granddaughter, Teresa Garcia, is quoted as saying.

The center says it doesn't know if the "restoration" can be fixed.

"We don’t know if this indescribable act has a solution, but there is no doubt that someone should adopt strict measures so that there is not a repetition of acts like this, which despite its intentions, should be strongly condemned," its blog says.

But in reader comments on the blog, some wonder whether the "restoration" is a repetition of a previous act, one from the 1997 Rowan Atkinson film "Bean."

“Something similar happened in the movie Mr. Bean. … It probably inspired whoever did this,” one commenter writes.

In the movie, Mr. Bean accidentally sneezes on the masterpiece "Whistler's Mother" and attempts a crude repair.

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The Ecce Homo "restoration" is arguably better than Bean's line drawing, and that might be just as well, because there's doubt that Ecce Homo can be returned to its original splendor. And at least one commenter on the blog sees a silver lining.

"I think that the city of Borja should conserve the painting in its current state," the person writes. "It could become a tourist attraction for the town.”

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Filed under: Art • Spain
soundoff (1,299 Responses)
  1. Jus' Sayin'...

    Holy Jesus, that is funny!

    September 1, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Chuck

    MR BEAN! i didnt know he was a professional now haha

    September 2, 2012 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jackie Miller

    This was one of hte best laughs my family and I ever had I bet that lady brought that town some VERY much needed tourism and attention. At least she tried and did it in good faith!! Its great leave it so my kids and i can go see it some day and remember the FUN!!

    September 3, 2012 at 1:44 am | Report abuse |
  4. Dave, CA

    “Of course I did it because I was told to do it."

    What evil has been done with just that as a reason?!

    September 3, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jack Pear.

    I'm still waiting for the part where this turns out to be part of Borat's new movie.

    September 3, 2012 at 7:31 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mary Ann Foster

    An irreplaceable work of art is forever destroyed and one moron after another describes it as," Funny" and "Something
    I want my kids to see someday". Pathetic.

    September 6, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • roballen2

      Don't take it so's nice when people are happy- no matter the reason...

      May 24, 2013 at 6:58 am | Report abuse |
  7. ciao

    The original is beautiful. I've never seen it before, but am now glad this came to light.

    Capturing Jesus Christ"s complete look of love and resignation in the most heroic life ever lived.
    Work of art, hope it gets restored.
    Mr. Bean movie, very funny.

    September 7, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  8. m

    why would they ruin such i beautiful thing with someone like that painting!!! At LEAST have a porfessional!

    September 14, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
  9. roballen2

    in the 1980's I was running around a Museum with a big ass old fashioned VHS video camera and my very young nephew.
    Slightly above my waist was a "Priceless" vase on a stand with a glass top. I bumped into it...kind of hard. Just didn't see it.
    I looked down and this vase was just rocking. We very quickly went to another part of the building. An alarm went off, but it didn't tip over or break.
    I still have the tape.

    September 22, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
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    January 29, 2013 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
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    It's actually a great and useful piece of info. I'm happy that you shared this useful information with us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.

    January 31, 2013 at 11:08 pm | Report abuse |
  12. missionrestoration01

    It is so funny, how anything damaged so badly if they are already restored. water damage restoration San Diego

    February 8, 2013 at 1:04 am | Report abuse |
  13. HJSimpson

    That's true Holy Inspiration!

    March 1, 2013 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
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