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 Euronews.com. “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.

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. hues

    ... This is kind of hilarious. And, proof that all art is temporary. As an artist, I would be ok with a piece of my art getting ”desecrated” 100 years after my death. Mortal artists make mortal art. Nothing is forever. This is a painting of Christ. This is not Christ himself that was desecrated . I live today. My message lives today. My art lives today. Tomorrow is NOT a promise. We need to learn to say goodbye with a sense of humor.

    August 23, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Crowded

      I kind of like it better like this. She gave him a shave too.. that is hilarious. I think its great and they shouldn't be beating up on her about it.

      August 23, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  2. nokoolaidcowboy

    Just a silly old woman, doing what silly old women do. But if a young person did this, would they get a pass like this person is getting? When I saw it at I first thought someone is going to jail over this. Who would feed all her cats?
    Not saying that she should but Wow!

    August 23, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • RapidOne

      hahaha nice

      August 23, 2012 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Dave

    Why is this person not in a home? She has thru unmittigated stupidity, destroyed something of great historical, cultural and religous significance.

    August 23, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • bigmart

      Old women she was told todo it by the church, To an elder person in a lot of european countries the church is everything anf if it tells you to do something you do it. Now who at the church felt she could restore a painting is a different matter but again as we all know the church is above reproach in a lot of places

      August 23, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Adam

      She CLAIMS she was told to do it. Do you honestly think that anybody would have given a job like that to an 80 year old woman?

      August 23, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
  4. CWC

    Can you imagine what would happen if this were painting of Muhammed?

    August 23, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Crowded

      Well it would have been desicrated or completely destroyed long ago as they are forbidden to even make a stick figure picture and label it Mohamed.

      August 23, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Marco Hernandez

    rembrant couldn't have done it better

    August 23, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  6. rad666

    How did no one notice she was doing this?

    August 23, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  7. bob

    why restore it? just leave it as is... thats how you can tell its the original.

    August 23, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jeffrey

    No one knows what the “Man” looked like so this just could be him, after all the Bible was supposedly written by divinely inspired men (no woman allowed) so why not a divinely inspired image by a 21st Century women. I hope they make prints as I would love to have a few to pass around. It really is great rendition of an icon we know nothing factual about.

    August 23, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • elizabeth

      Jeffrey, please be sure you know some facts before posting something like this. The Bible is the most historically accurate text we have. Even history books are written based on the information and timelines presested in the Bible. Most people will not tell you this, but dig deeper...it's there. Second, women were mistreated and not considered equal during Bible times, yet, if you actually read the Bible, there are more stories written in favor of women than any other text out there. Read it. Start with Ruth, Esther, Mary, Hannah, Rahab, etc. The women of the Bible are scandalous and very much appreciated. Please don't make it sound like the Bible was a "man" only thing. Check it out for yourself.

      August 23, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  9. sammye

    first thing that white man aint Jesus of the bible dummies! that lie is so old everybody believes it.

    August 23, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Repalabrador

    I like the last version better.

    August 23, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  11. TPG703

    The "restored" pic looks like a drunken mon-chi-chi.

    August 23, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  12. veke

    needs Cicciolina.

    August 23, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  13. dm21865

    I'd have added a nice cat on his shoulder. The Yeti Jesus needs a cat.

    August 23, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  14. infidelbob

    The artwork is world famous now. Tourists in Spain likely passed that town and their church before. If they leave the brown monkey the way it is, people will make pilgrimages to have a giggle at it. The tourist dollars could be a blessing from God. He works in mysterious ways.

    August 23, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jesus H Christ

    If you vote for OBAMA my dad will beat you up!

    August 23, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • RapidOne

      So you mean YOU will beat us up?...

      August 23, 2012 at 7:14 pm | Report abuse |
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