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. saywhat

    @Joe from CT
    Jesus Christ as Christians perceive him has no place in Judaism since it preceded Christ. They recognize him as a carpenter who taught during the Roman rule.
    Islam recognizes him as a holy Prophet and messenger of God. Believe in the miracles of his birth, childhood and ministry and second coming. They revere Mary as most exalted among women.

    August 23, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • just saying

      jesus looks like a monkey.

      August 23, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  2. mordrud

    Wow. Did they get the church janitor to do it to save money?

    August 23, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  3. mordrud

    Somebody call the Louvre, I wanna volunteer to "restore" the Mona Lisa. After seeing this I feel totally qualified....

    August 23, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  4. brettux

    since Jesus wasn't a white guy, Im sure he actually didn't look like the pic on the left, but its a shame this was done to this fresco, destroyed.

    August 23, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Denso

    we'll see seyedibar, at least some of us will, you piece of garbage.

    August 23, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Biff

    On a positive note, at least she'll be remembered forever in that church.

    August 23, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Mark

    The woman who was allow to "restore" the fresco, was chosen by who?

    August 23, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mark

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

    Of course it can be fixed (a la Bean)

    1) Take the photo of the original painting
    2) Upload to and order large poster
    3) Cover "restoration" with said poster, affixing poster with chewing gum
    4) Paint over poster with egg wash, for that "old" look

    August 23, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Bernard

    “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."

    Wow - people are really dumb. The old "I did it because somebody told me to" excuse. How about telling the priest you are incapable of the restoration instead of painting an Ewok?

    August 23, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Philip

    Jesus was neither white nor brown. He had an olive complexion and thpoke withe a lithpe like all Galileans did.
    And he was only a professional carpenter as a younger man. At the age of about 29 he quit working full-time and financed his ministry working day labor.
    He and his followers were no threat to the Roman Empire that crushed Jerusalem AFTER allowing christians to flee the city, about 30 years after Jesus died.

    August 23, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • phred

      Since Jesus is a fictional character who was never described in the stories, we don't really know any of that.

      August 23, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Kathryn

    Well the Art world is fuming but I'm pretty sure that "the efforts of an elderly parishioner" in service to her Lord and her Church are appreciated by the subject of the painting! I picture him saying someting like, "thank you, Love, it's beautiful.."

    August 23, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tomek

      The Spanish Inquisition will surely disagree.

      August 23, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Electro-Jesus

    Can't help myself laughing out loud.

    Look at the "zombie-Jesus!". Hilarious!

    August 23, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  13. just saying

    ahahahahaha,this jesus is funny.

    August 23, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  14. mommajam

    This would be very funny if it wasn't such a tragic loss. Jesus looks like a Gibbon monkey now!

    August 23, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Reason

    I bet thats more what he looked like anyway – I dont see what all the fuss is about.

    August 23, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
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