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. Bob Ross

    I would have done it the same way, only adding little happy clouds.

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

      Bob Ross, your comment absolutely set me off! Thanks for the laugh!

      August 23, 2012 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Sam I. Am

    Wow... looks like a character from "Planet of the Apes!"

    August 23, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  3. eric hill

    Ecce Hamster.

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

    If Homer Simpson were there... he'd sa "Doh!"

    August 23, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  5. desert voice/troubledgoodangel

    I have no words to express my disgust. Where was the Bishop in all this? Someone must be responsible if the priest isn't! This appears to be something bordering on the satanic! Only Satan has a vested interest in defacing the image of Christ!

    August 23, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • friendingonfacebook

      Well, I think he's busy, actually. I'd tend to blame the elves before I took cheap shots at Sant... ooooohhhhhh...

      August 23, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • JamesB

      Yes, you are absolutely right. While this may only be the 3,004,321,004th painting of a man who died 1,972 years ago, it is whatsoever a SACRED piece of art. She should be hung, and then stoned, and then exorcised, because, no doubt this 80 year old senile woman has the Devil within her.

      August 23, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Lisa

    What a shame, it was a beautiful painting. The woman is obviously nuts.

    August 23, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  7. VERISSIMO FEIJOO VIZOSO

    Nature imitates Art. (Oscar Wilde) And Real Art imitates Fiction. (Cecilia Giménez vs. Mr. Bean)

    August 23, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  8. CuriouslyStrong

    Looks to me like the restorer might be Picasso's granddaughter.

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

    "God does not reside on Olympus nor does he reside in Israel, though Jews assert that he does. And with arms when necessarry."

    August 23, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Poolchick

    Wow, I could have done a better job than that and I have a hard time drawing a stick man. lol
    It's such a shame it was done so badly. Hope they can fix it to look more like the original.

    August 23, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      I think my favorite part, and the section she devoted the most time to, was the hair. It has that delightfully fuzzy felt kind of look to it. Maybe it is just the low quality of the image, but it has won me over!

      August 23, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Bill

    I would like to say the old lady was having vision problems, but she got the scroll fold at the bottom of the painting correct: other than it was not supposed to be there and folds in the wrong direction. This is what you get when you commission a 100 year old to rehab a 120 year old painting. I do not blame the lady other than she took something on she should not and did not stop, but who was supervising this? DId it perhaps happen over an hour time?

    August 23, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  12. georges

    Stop making fun of down syndrome Jesus...

    August 23, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Zebula

    What's clear is that the parishioner was completely ignorant about the original content of the painting – ignorant about it's subject, Jesus, or she would have recognized that the crown of thorns was not hair. Does this woman sleep in church?

    August 23, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Snoop

    You're such a mo ron.

    August 23, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Vin

    Has anyone paid any mind that Jesus looks like an Alien Hybrid? Perhaps this is the intent? Also, this might be the divine will, after all it is from the Church!

    August 23, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
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