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. Mike

    What a hatchet job. The finished "repair" doesn't even look human.

    August 23, 2012 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Bman

    I think it's a waste. Replace it with a picture of Mohammad, and, oh maybe that's what it is Now!

    August 23, 2012 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Just Looking

      You really sound stupid. Step away from the key board. You are trying way too hard.

      August 23, 2012 at 10:30 pm | Report abuse |
  3. john

    you have got to be kidding me. this is sad, what a destruction of a masterpiece. fool. that woman is a fool.

    August 23, 2012 at 9:11 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mike R

    You don't get into heaven with a "nice try" job. This is clearly the work of the devil. I prey that the responsible party has God's mercy. Mr. Bean would have done away better job.

    August 23, 2012 at 9:16 pm | Report abuse |
  5. rexedie

    finally some real life comic irony.... what a hoot...!!!

    August 23, 2012 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse |
  6. wildone

    I think she might have found the holy wine stash.

    August 23, 2012 at 9:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • clem

      Tee hee..

      August 23, 2012 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Chris Maurice

    Jesus kinds looks like that right now, after all these years.

    August 23, 2012 at 9:28 pm | Report abuse |
  8. rrock

    Looks like it was restored by a 3rd grader.

    August 23, 2012 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Barbara Large

    I am sure Jesus is having a chuckle about this himself.

    August 23, 2012 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
  10. kt

    Seems legit.

    August 23, 2012 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
  11. CC

    She just try to represent the trend of the human race, getting fat!

    August 23, 2012 at 10:02 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Cohiba

    I would absolutely wear a t-shirt bearing the image of the restoration.

    August 23, 2012 at 10:11 pm | Report abuse |
  13. david

    The church was letting degrade into a piece of crap anyway....

    August 23, 2012 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
  14. david

    And I'll have fun fun fun til my priest takes by paint brush away.....

    August 23, 2012 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • clem


      August 23, 2012 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
  15. david


    August 23, 2012 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gura

      Ha,ha,ha! this is soooooooooo good!

      August 28, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
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