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. Robert

    Now all we have to do is get a Kindergarten class to fingerpaint restore the Cistine Chapel and the Mona Lisa.

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

    Hahahaha! This is the funniest thing I have seen/ heard of in a looooong time! I think my dog could do better! Hahahahha!

    August 23, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
  3. waynebob

    Obviously the work of another graduate of the Acme School of Painting....

    August 23, 2012 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • keratoid

      if you can draw this pirate or this turtle your a master!!

      August 23, 2012 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
  4. PunchInTheFace

    The new version looks like that toy from the 80s called Monchichi.

    Monchichisus.

    August 23, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Easy E

    Absolutely sickening. The best part is this incompetent dumbfv k is going around making excuses for herself, zero shame for her stupidity. There's no excuse for this, none. I wish Hannibal Lecter were a real individual, he'd know how to take care of this destroyer of art.

    August 23, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
  6. T Money

    Is this real or fake? It looks kinda fake, with the picture and the painting rolled the wrong way on the bottom. Nobody is this bad! I mean if somebody was this bad wouldn't evolution have taken care of them a long time ago:)

    August 23, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Alex

    Yeah, I think it looks better.

    August 23, 2012 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
  8. JM

    This is why I am in favor of art thieves and those individuals who are rich enough to buy art on the black market and hang those masterpieces in their private museums. They preserve art and care for it much better than the so called experts at public museums and elsewhere who lack the personal incentive to truly protect or cherish art or antiquities. This world's cultural heritage is debased whenever its displayed in public, or given back to countries who never cared for it in the first place in a mindless, absurd gesture of reconciliation for past wrongs never even committed in our lifetimes. I wish I could buyout the entire Smithsonian, just so I could keep the treasures out of the hands of our government and most certainly away from the public, for all time.

    August 23, 2012 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Phildo

    Too much lipstick. And rouge.

    August 23, 2012 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
  10. James

    Looks like a character from Adventure Time

    August 23, 2012 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Phicasso

    The mouth is off to one side.

    August 23, 2012 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Keratoid

    This looks like the work of graduates, from The Turtle-Pirate school of fine art

    August 23, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
  13. wildone

    Jesus would say: " Bless you my child, for your heart is good, yet your hand is........not so good."

    August 23, 2012 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Yossarian

    Jesus has an afro now. Can you dig it?

    August 23, 2012 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • cleareye1

      She seems to have been attempting a Picasso style. Get someone better at rendering Picasso to finish it off and you'll have something. The original was boring anyways.

      August 23, 2012 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
  15. aure22

    I am in tears...because of laughing. Art Brut at its best! XD

    R.I.P original.

    August 23, 2012 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
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