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. Chris S

    This would fit right in in most "spirit of Vatican" parishes. I'm not even kidding. 60s – 80s Catholic art is hideous and looks exactly like this, or even worse.

    August 23, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
  2. the church?

    "from the Church"? makes no sense

    August 23, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  3. the church?

    Oh, those ugly churches encrusted with jewels. gotcha.

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

    Nobody paid attention when this 'restoration' was being botched?! This looks nothing-like Jesus.., if that's really Jesus in the other pix. it looks like a character from 'Where The Wild Things Are'.

    August 23, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  5. gstudio


    August 23, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  6. ddpp

    don't worry just wait 120 years and it's gonna look like original again.

    August 23, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Hugh Jass

    As a hugh jass, I am in awe of this woman. She is a much hugher jass than I could ever be. And I bet she used housepaint, too.

    August 23, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
  8. STLBroker

    She did a good job of adding the "rolled up scroll" look at the bottom that wasn't there before. That is some funny stuff right there.

    I'm sure Jesus has gotten a good laugh and has already forgiven her.

    August 23, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mr. Bones

    It almost looks like a Modigliani if he got really baked and tried to paint a portrait...he got through the eyes, then the stuff hit really hard.

    August 23, 2012 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
  10. All4TheLulz

    Seems legit.

    August 23, 2012 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Alvaro

    The new doesn´t mention that she was an 80 years old woman and that the piece doesn´t have an artistic value, only an emotional value for the artist relatives

    August 23, 2012 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Terry Brookman

    Did they have to buy the crayons or was a roller and pan involved? Is the restorer out of preschool yet?, Is the restorer related to a member of the clergy and if so what religion? Druid? So many questions and no answers.

    August 23, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  13. test

    this is a test

    August 23, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Hot Carl

    LOL, looks like she painted a mongoloid!

    August 23, 2012 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Hot Carl

    Hey! I saw that guy today licking windows on the corner!

    August 23, 2012 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
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