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. jimmy

    It doesn't look so bad to me.

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

      Have you had your eyes checked in the last 29 years?

      August 23, 2012 at 10:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • sybaris

      MaryLand are you saying you know what this Jesus fellow is "supposed" to look like?

      August 23, 2012 at 10:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • 1question


      I don't know what this Jesus fellow is "supposed" to look like, but nobody in the human race has ever looked anything remotely close to this god-awful painting.

      August 24, 2012 at 12:45 am | Report abuse |
  2. Mark


    August 23, 2012 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Father Guido Sarducci

    "Find the Popes in the Pizza"

    Well, I think what I'm gonna do for the prize, whoever wins - you know, finds the most Popes - they'll get to have a button that I designed myself

    August 23, 2012 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Kelly

    This has to be the funniest news story I have read in quite a while. I saw it this morning and started my day with hysterical laughter and I find it just as hysterical tonight. Everytime I see it, I literally cannot stop laughing. I seriously thought it was a joke.

    August 23, 2012 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
  5. RoadRunner, Albuquerque, NM

    It is odious, hideous, atrocious. Surely someone will be willing to pay millions for it.

    August 23, 2012 at 10:39 pm | Report abuse |
  6. joma14

    The moment she touched a brush to the left side, someone should have had a clue about what was about to happen.

    August 23, 2012 at 10:39 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Muzzleblast

    Bloodclartt!! That's the funniest thing I seen in a while!

    August 23, 2012 at 10:39 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Lord Jesus

    Only a jew could hurt jesus as bad as this.

    August 23, 2012 at 10:39 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Runes77

    You cannot make this stuff up. This is hysterical.

    August 23, 2012 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse |
  10. art appreciator

    Oh hell, just paint over it already.

    August 23, 2012 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
  11. ironwolf56

    Meddling clueless old ladies really are just a universal cultural thing huh?

    August 23, 2012 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Yang Xi Gua

    the restored one has demon eyes

    August 23, 2012 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse |
  13. JSS

    Ok, I am sure that poor sweet parishioner had entirely good intentions, but MAN that is *creepy*.

    August 23, 2012 at 10:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • RavJosh

      Looks like Monk Tebow got possessed by Voldemort from Harry Potter #1 while wearing a muumuu.

      August 23, 2012 at 10:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • BelladonnaCove

      No kidding... like Picasso on PCP.

      August 23, 2012 at 10:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • NoGr8rH8r

      Good Intentions? It looks like vandalism!

      August 23, 2012 at 10:59 pm | Report abuse |
  14. gbologn


    August 23, 2012 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Adam


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