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. asdf

    what was once a crown of thorns has been tastefully updated into a furry hat. Kind of puts a whole new spin on the story.

    August 23, 2012 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Obama is a LIAR

      Did Obama paint this with his Government Thugs – Vote Romney 2012....!

      August 23, 2012 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • VOTE ROMNEY OR THE USA WILL CEASE

      Romney Forever!
      Obozo is so stupid and godless

      August 23, 2012 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
    • asdf

      @Vote Romney

      If Obama is godless, that makes him a more attractive candidate.

      August 23, 2012 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
    • no

      Wow, you are really that stupid, huh?

      August 23, 2012 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Yeah, because the POTUS has everything to do with what an 80-year-old granny in SPAIN did to botch a restoration...troll.

      August 23, 2012 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
    • snowball

      this comment is the only funny thing about this horrible story. thanks for the chuckle.

      August 23, 2012 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Sinfully Yours

      @snowball:
      Did you not see the picture?!

      August 23, 2012 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alex

      Seriously, I wish religion would stay the hell out of politics. I'm tired of men who try to pass laws based on fairytales.

      August 23, 2012 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
  2. BkJesus

    well done Granny. only you know that jesus is a Black man..

    August 23, 2012 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
  3. Rob

    Read the article on the BBC website. Hilarious description of what it now resembles.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-19349921

    August 23, 2012 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
    • asdf

      "The once-dignified portrait now resembles a crayon sketch of a very hairy monkey in an ill-fitting tunic"

      nailed it.

      August 23, 2012 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Totally nailed it.

      August 23, 2012 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
  4. talkic.com

    She gave him the hipster-dbag makeover.

    August 23, 2012 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
  5. George

    Nailed it...

    August 23, 2012 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
  6. HZD

    Behold, the Owl!

    August 23, 2012 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  7. VOTE ROMNEY OR THE USA WILL CEASE

    Vote for MITT ROMNEY!

    Because barak hussian allah muhammad obama will turn our nation into Mexico North with a little splash of Saudi arabia

    August 23, 2012 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
    • asdf

      you just wrote 5 minutes ago that he was godless...which is it?

      August 23, 2012 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
    • LMA

      Wow. Your attempt at insulting our Prez - your Prez - is so original. He's never been called a godless Muslim before. I'm sure Romney is proud to have your support...

      August 23, 2012 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
  8. lulubroz

    Say hello to Rhesus Jesus.

    August 23, 2012 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Kmar

      Thanks for my laugh for the day:)

      August 23, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tae

      Best comment yet haha

      August 24, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Dynamic

    I think it looks better now. Picasso always tried to capture the inner person. This must be her interpretation of the real Jesus, the inner being...an ALIEN! Proves it!

    August 23, 2012 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  10. Sinfully Yours

    This is your savior....
    This is your savior on drugs...
    Any questions?

    August 23, 2012 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Kafir

      comment.of.the month!

      August 24, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Al

    If only she had signed it "Van Gogh", it would be worth millions....

    August 23, 2012 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
  12. lulubroz

    Don't look, but I think Todd Akin is trolling here.

    August 23, 2012 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  13. Kevin

    Jesus Christ! Or, I should say Jesus Cry!

    August 23, 2012 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
  14. LaLaLauren

    It's adorable.

    August 23, 2012 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
  15. Ajax Telomonian

    This is why you should keep an eye on old people.

    August 23, 2012 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Sinfully Yours

      Actually, it gives cause the need for legalized euthanasia!

      August 23, 2012 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dash

      'Although slow, and dangerous behind the wheel, they still can serve a purpose!' – Lloyd Christmas

      August 23, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wow

      Depends on the wheel Dash. A hamster wheel maybe.

      August 23, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
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