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.

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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. ScottCA

    That is terrible. To have destroyed a work of art in such a way. She should be charged for this, no matter if her intentions were good or not, she is liable for the damage, ignorance is no excuse for the outcome.

    August 23, 2012 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chuck da duck

      dont be stupid. OK?

      August 23, 2012 at 10:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      And how do you suggest she should be punished? And by whom?

      August 23, 2012 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • ScottCA

      In the same manner as any vandalism. She has robbed the world of an artistic treasure there needs to be consequences for those responsible.

      August 23, 2012 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Father Guido Sarducci

      its just that she didn't finish yet, give her a break. Once she adds the cartoon bubble with Jesus saying "Honk if you love Jesus".

      August 23, 2012 at 10:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lover of art

      Well, she could certainly be sued for starters.

      August 24, 2012 at 12:14 am | Report abuse |
  2. Joe

    Can only expect CNN to find these sesasionalistic articles, in their ongoing futile attack on Christianity. Keep trying, CNN 😉

    August 23, 2012 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • ScottCA

      Actually it is logic and reasons continued attack on ignorance, including religious delusional ignoance.

      The null hypothesis is that god does not exist. Since there is no evidence to support the existance of god, the null hypothesis holds as the logical position. To abandon this position is to enter into insanity.

      Just as it is crazy to believe in the 6ft tall green monster in my closet without evidence, so is it crazy to believe in god without evidence.

      August 23, 2012 at 10:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ekaterina Kaverina

      It is not an attack on Christianity. If it can be verified that people in charge saw her do it. and like she says actually asked her to, then it is poor judgement on their part. Art restoration should be done by experts, not random elderly parishioners. On any painting.

      August 23, 2012 at 10:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Beast

      I think that awful "restoration" was an attack on Christianity, not CNN's article.

      August 23, 2012 at 10:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Instead of attacking CNN you should attack the parishoner who destroyed the painting.

      August 23, 2012 at 10:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • People are too serious

      Lol no one bothered to look at your winking and smiling emoticon. Hilarious! Too funny!

      August 23, 2012 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • john

      How is this article an attack on christianity. be quite if yuo cant make intelligent conversation. Jesus was very likley not white with blue eyes in anycase!

      August 23, 2012 at 11:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lover of art

      Don't get em in a wad. This is certainly not meant to bash Christianity. We are talking about one person, could've been anyone, who ruined a beautiful, classic piece of art work that happened to be a church. That's it. No more. No less.

      August 24, 2012 at 12:17 am | Report abuse |
  3. Tr1Xen

    LOL I saw someone post this on Facebook with a comment that said, "FAIL" and I thought it was a joke. Wow... This is too funny. ><

    August 23, 2012 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
  4. John Kaufman, Oceanside, CA

    How sad to see such a louzy job. I have always wondered what did Jesus really look like? I will bet the painting they have of him as seen in this original, was not like the real man.

    August 23, 2012 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • mizh

      Since when does "lousy" have a Z?

      August 23, 2012 at 10:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • john

      seriously who asked for a spellcheck anywys?

      August 23, 2012 at 11:09 pm | Report abuse |
  5. BobTBuilder

    Jesus now looks like the fairly tale character he is.

    August 23, 2012 at 10:30 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Tim B

    I don't see any problem with it, it has become a new work of art.

    August 23, 2012 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Chuck da duck

    What did Jesus say when he was on the cross???

    OOOOWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!

    August 23, 2012 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse |
  8. BobTBuilder

    Personally I would have given him green eyes and horns.

    August 23, 2012 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse |
  9. dustin

    LMAO it looks like an eskimo

    August 23, 2012 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse |
  10. ton

    I'm sure there's something this person could be charged with for destroying this. Absolutely unbelievable.

    August 23, 2012 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Rex Populis

    The face of a monkey miraculously appeared on jesus. Proof that Darwin was correct and a future shrine to the faithful in the theory of evolution. Lourdes, watch out!

    August 23, 2012 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
  12. PAGLi

    When I heard this on the news this morning, the first thing that came to my mind was the scene from Mr. Beans movie..LOL!

    August 23, 2012 at 10:35 pm | Report abuse |
  13. joma14

    omg- literally. And who was the genius that approved the work, the worker, and did not check in on her, before she created a bobblehead?!

    August 23, 2012 at 10:36 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jay

    They do not know if the restoration can be fixed? The restoration was the fix. The restoration was done flawlessly. It looks just like it did 100 years ago.

    August 23, 2012 at 10:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Moses

      JESUS CHRIST! >.<

      August 23, 2012 at 10:50 pm | Report abuse |
  15. nykspree8

    every time i scroll up i can't stop laughing at this thing...she turned Jesus into a fat woman wearing a winter hat and then she even went as far as to draw the bottom part of the scroll rolled up!!! lmao

    August 23, 2012 at 10:37 pm | Report abuse |
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