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. red mounts

    Why is it that Spaniards always destroy arts? Astecas, Maias and now this. Unbelievable.

    August 23, 2012 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
  2. sportreform

    Well I am just a monkey man
    Im glad you are a monkey, monkey woman too, babe

    Im a monkey
    Im a monkey
    Im a monkey man
    Im a monkey man
    Im a monkey...

    August 23, 2012 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
  3. sybaris

    Riiiiight, like anyone knows what this alleged Jesus guy looked like anyway.

    Might as well been a painting of the Grinch

    August 23, 2012 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • cleareye1

      I like the blonde and blue-eyed Jesus. Amen!

      August 23, 2012 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • tammi

      probably a lot darker than they church draws him now. the jews in israel now are a mix of people from the norhtern parts of russia and the old jews. The original jew would have been a lot darker.

      August 23, 2012 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • BiggerLifter

      I like the Baby Jesus best.

      August 23, 2012 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
  4. TrueGrissel

    Looks more like a very bad Picasso rendering. How did she get away with it?

    August 23, 2012 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
  5. CK

    Epic FAIL

    August 23, 2012 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Conway Johnson

    It needs a PhotoShop repair & just paint it. This was an abomination. Please fix this. The original was beautiful.

    August 23, 2012 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
  7. ceebee

    Looks a little bit like some of the before and after pictures of Hollywood plastic surgeries gone wrong.

    August 23, 2012 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |
  8. hidey ho

    Who checked her previous art works before she started???? hhahahahah. Now it for sure looks like the 2 cent paper it was done on rofl.

    August 23, 2012 at 7:23 pm | Report abuse |
  9. chicago7

    You get what you pay for.

    August 23, 2012 at 7:23 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Babak from LA

    Ooops!

    August 23, 2012 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Babak from LA

    She shaved Jesus.....

    August 23, 2012 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
  12. les

    It was done on purpose I don't believe this was accidental in any way. The afro, the eyes, the gigantic lips, a bad Picasso maybe? It's too bizarre to be just "bad painting". But oh, so funny....

    August 23, 2012 at 7:50 pm | Report abuse |
  13. sameeker

    I do not believe in religion; however, I appreciate historic artwork. It is terrible what she did to that artifact.

    August 23, 2012 at 7:51 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Mion

    Oh god, this is so unfortunate but at the same time it's f***ing hilarious...

    August 23, 2012 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Tony Shih

    How about hiring a professional in China and make a copy of the "original" before all of this happen and call it a day (sort of like what Mr. Bean did).. I am sure it would be cheap.... LOL

    August 23, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • yaa

      How about keeping your money within their country and NOT involve china

      August 23, 2012 at 8:51 pm | Report abuse |
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