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. Danny

    She should have been in a nursing home long ago.

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

    It is absolutely shameful how people who call themselves Christians want to basically crucify this person for trying their best and failing. Christians love to go on the attack.

    August 23, 2012 at 11:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Edwin

      It's awful, but not surprising. Amongst all the religions, my personal experience is that christians are the most judgmental and intolerant of others (of course, I live in a christian-dominated country, so that might bias my experiences).

      August 23, 2012 at 11:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lover of art

      This has nothing to do with Christian versus not. Don't try to twist things. This is about art, classic, irreplaceable art that has been destroyed. People have to be more careful. This piece had great aesthetic value and look at it now! It is a disgrace. No two ways about it.

      August 23, 2012 at 11:56 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Picaso

    Goodness gracious old women, what where you thinking, I could have done it better job with my big toe!!

    August 23, 2012 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse |
  4. die die


    August 23, 2012 at 11:18 pm | Report abuse |
  5. GIUK

    Oh relax, just change the name of the painting to "Behold the Chimp."

    August 23, 2012 at 11:18 pm | Report abuse |
  6. JIm

    Planet of the Apes

    August 23, 2012 at 11:18 pm | Report abuse |
  7. DeVon


    August 23, 2012 at 11:20 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Andrew

    I see one glaring problem. Jesus is a white caucasian when he is clearly of middle eastern decent. Thats right folks. Jesus was a rag head Jew to boot!

    August 23, 2012 at 11:21 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Painter's Mom

    Give her a break. Clearly she hasn't finished yet. All it really needs is a bit of fluorescent paint to make it pop. Once she's done, you're all going to feel rather stupid.

    August 23, 2012 at 11:21 pm | Report abuse |
  10. mr774

    It's a owl's face.

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

    I think she is an evolutionist making a statement.
    She just rendered the gods of Neanderthals LOL.

    August 23, 2012 at 11:25 pm | Report abuse |
  12. colleen

    There going to have to chuck the picture now

    August 23, 2012 at 11:25 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Sam Jones

    Where is Divine Intervention when you truly need it? LMAO

    August 23, 2012 at 11:25 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Kenny

    Now that's how Jesus REALLY looked like. He wasn't a likeable guy but he was genuine, too late you see, he was brutally beaten and crucified thousands of years ago and we finally realized how nice and important he is today.

    August 23, 2012 at 11:26 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Brad Simmons

    I don't understand what all the hoopla is over. It's an exact likeness. 😉

    August 23, 2012 at 11:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Frankly Speaking

      No Way! Jesus had blue eyes and golden blonde flowing hair.

      August 23, 2012 at 11:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • YBP

      Thank you, Bringham Young.

      August 23, 2012 at 11:43 pm | Report abuse |
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