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. Gary Corfitzson

    LMAO; Photoshop gone badly. And besides, who is to say what Jesus looked like? That presumptuous blonde haired blue eyed Frenchman that everyone is so fond of? Consider the “earthly parental ethnicity” and tenor of the times…

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

      Jesus, and everyone and everythign in the bible for that matter are fictional. So who really cares what she did, her work is no less inaccurate than the original since it's of a person who never existed.

      August 23, 2012 at 11:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • cray820

      Yeah you try telling people that Jesus wasn't white, not just hem but pretty much all the biblical characters which in term means that today's Semites aren't at all related to ancient biblical Jews because its more likely that the Jews are closer related to Mideastern and African people. You go ahead and try.

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

    she should be given the opportunity to redeem herself by being allowed to restore other fresco in the building- what the heck -make it the town

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

    The funniest and most descriptive comment was bade by a BBC reporter "The once-dignified portrait now resembles a crayon sketch of a very hairy monkey in an ill-fitting tunic,".

    August 23, 2012 at 11:06 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Dilly

    Apparently really dumb people are present in Spain also!

    August 23, 2012 at 11:07 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Parker

    I think It's sad! It looks like a "South Park" character. I'm willing to restore the painting. If I where approved by whom ever. My travel expenses and materials would have to be paid for, room & board. Just a thought.

    August 23, 2012 at 11:07 pm | Report abuse |
  6. nealjt@yahoo.com

    Thats hilarious 🙂

    August 23, 2012 at 11:08 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Frank

    Well, what matters is that she had good intentions. Now let's just hope they were good.

    August 23, 2012 at 11:08 pm | Report abuse |
  8. blogosphere

    One example why Down's syndrome people should stick with CVS.

    August 23, 2012 at 11:09 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Paul

    I like it. Someone will pay $1 million for it just because it's been on the news. Let's watch!

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

    Hilarious painting but I feel sorta bad for that woman (as well as the family of the original artist). Some people are saying the woman should be charged with vandalism but sounds like she was just an elderly woman trying to be helpful and took on a task that she couldn't handle.

    What about the priest and other people who knew she was doing this? Nobody checked up on her or could've intervened before the painting was ruined?

    Just seems sad that she'll live out the rest of her years with shame and embarrassment when she was apparently just trying to be helpful.

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

    I didn't know you could use housepaint for fine art.. 😉

    August 23, 2012 at 11:11 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Assyrian

    My post was removed by cnn for calling westerners, Godless

    August 23, 2012 at 11:12 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Sebastian2

    That's mutilation, not restoration. The 'restorer' made Jesus look like a hybrid between a monkey and a sloth. This is why you PAY professionals to do this kind of thing....

    August 23, 2012 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
  14. marinedad05

    Jesus Christ!

    August 23, 2012 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Tim

    It would have looked more like Jesus if she had used a poor dirty Palestinian boy as a model.

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