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. sybaris

    Who cares.

    It's just a fictional character anyway

    It'd be the same if 100 years from now somebody made a painting of Charlie Brown look like a subject from a Picaso

    August 23, 2012 at 10:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Judy

      Someday you will regret saying that, but fortunately you said it about someone merciful.

      August 23, 2012 at 10:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeremy

      The model for the Mona Lisa may be a fictional character, but I doubt you'd say the same if this happened to that painting. Admit you're simply anti-religious. You're one of those people who insult the religious even when they're not giving you a reason. Like today.

      August 23, 2012 at 11:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • JD

      Truth. Especially since we don't know if Jesus was white...or black...or Mexican, or if he was a hermaphrodite even...the writings in the bible have been edited so many times that the "truth" barely exists. Then of course, there's the FACT that we don't KNOW whether or not "he" existed.

      August 23, 2012 at 11:10 pm | Report abuse |
  2. AtheistHuman

    Fitting restoration, since its all fantasy anyways.

    August 23, 2012 at 10:52 pm | Report abuse |
  3. ohthatchar

    What if Jesus really looked like that? ...No one really knows. Would peoples of the world rally around this person if he looked a bit odd, as this accidental fix that went wrong? Really?

    August 23, 2012 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • ohthatchar

      By the way, Jesus is my friend.

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

      Wouldn't that be ironic! But no, I'll bet he looked exactly like Groucho Marx.

      August 23, 2012 at 11:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Frank

      It was not how jesus looked like that made others follow him. It was for his actions and his words.

      August 23, 2012 at 11:06 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Yang Xi Gua

    behold the demon eyes

    August 23, 2012 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
  5. BelladonnaCove

    I immediately thought of Mr. Bean when I saw the 'restoration'. What was that church thinking ?? A child could do better. And why try to 'recreate' it ??? Just repair the original –by a professional !

    August 23, 2012 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Thugvon

    At this point, it would just as easy to turn it into Munch's "The Scream"

    August 23, 2012 at 10:57 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Assyrian

    Godless evil westerners. You are empty and lost.

    August 23, 2012 at 10:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thugvon


      August 23, 2012 at 11:18 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Justin Ayers

    The "real" Jesus depicted in the original painting is a fairly attractive effeminate blue-eyed Anglo-Saxon, but hardly an accurate representation of an ethnic Middle Easterner.

    August 23, 2012 at 10:58 pm | Report abuse |
  9. JBest

    arrest her and get her off the drugs before anymore mutilations.

    August 23, 2012 at 10:58 pm | Report abuse |
  10. GM1953

    I think this is a good example of getting what you pay for

    August 23, 2012 at 10:59 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Egads

    Imma hoping Jesus has a wicked sense of humor when she shows up at the pearly gates.

    August 23, 2012 at 11:01 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Stan Marsh

    How many other works of art and literature have been "altered" throughout the centuries.

    August 23, 2012 at 11:01 pm | Report abuse |
  13. blogosphere

    what is wrong with the restoration? It does look better, actually depicts the real face of Jesus!

    August 23, 2012 at 11:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • fableanne

      It's hideous.

      August 23, 2012 at 11:07 pm | Report abuse |
  14. MyFeelsMatter

    I like the new one. It's more ethnic.

    August 23, 2012 at 11:03 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jefferson Arbungle

    Looks like a learning disabled did it and screwed up big time.

    August 23, 2012 at 11:05 pm | Report abuse |
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