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. Steve O.

    Nope, I ain't buying it... This has to be a promo for an upcoming Mr. Bean movie and it's hilarious!!!

    August 23, 2012 at 11:27 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Rachel

    Art is in the eye of the beholder maybe in 2000 years there will be news story about ruining this older ladies folk art!!! I think it is great.

    August 23, 2012 at 11:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • vegan


      August 23, 2012 at 11:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tony

      This wouldn't be "great" on Planet of the Blind.

      August 23, 2012 at 11:40 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Steve

    Just like the bible, made up as they went along.

    August 23, 2012 at 11:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • sopenco

      Go push your athiesm somewhere else. Or, just grow a pair.

      August 23, 2012 at 11:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • YBP

      One doesn't need to espouse atheism to know for certain that the bible is indeed fiction. There are entire studies on the subject.

      August 23, 2012 at 11:39 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Kenny

    She said IF that's really Jesus, his image will re-appear overnight. Just wait.

    August 23, 2012 at 11:28 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Rachel

    How about you are never too old for lessons.

    August 23, 2012 at 11:29 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Charles Darwin

    My theory in display

    August 23, 2012 at 11:30 pm | Report abuse |
  7. us_1776

    Probably closer to what Jesus REALLY looked like.


    August 23, 2012 at 11:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • YBP

      Since he originated in St Paul's imagination, he could look like anything a sanctimonious tent-maker-turned-con-man can imagine.

      August 23, 2012 at 11:41 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Has Anyone Seen My Depends?

    Leonardo Da Vinci's Mona Lisa was for a time ridiculed. lmao

    August 23, 2012 at 11:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • chrissy

      The Depends troll is back

      August 23, 2012 at 11:34 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Paul

    lol, best laff I've had all day.

    August 23, 2012 at 11:33 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Frankly Speaking


    Is it just me or does it seem like the Catholic Church can't seem to get ANYTHING right these days?

    August 23, 2012 at 11:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • YBP

      They seem to have a number of predatory practices down to a science.

      August 23, 2012 at 11:42 pm | Report abuse |
  11. NotAfraidOfU

    I don't know how this happened. She was the finest cake decorator in all of Borja!

    August 23, 2012 at 11:35 pm | Report abuse |
  12. science101

    its purty

    August 23, 2012 at 11:36 pm | Report abuse |
  13. She now sells a book of "restorations".

    As part of hoping to raise funds to appease Garcia

    August 23, 2012 at 11:37 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Bruce

    The restoration is absolutely remarkable! Gimenez captures the compassion and sadness evident in the original portrait and then inexplicably shaves Jesus and trades his thorn crown for a furry tie-around cap. The smeared mouth clearly is the product of rage or exhaustion. Incredible!

    August 23, 2012 at 11:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • james bronz

      your hillarous. hahaha

      August 23, 2012 at 11:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gawsh

      oh my!

      August 23, 2012 at 11:48 pm | Report abuse |
  15. chc9020

    That is absolutely hilarious, thank you for reporting the story. However, if true I do feel badly for the old lady and the church.

    August 23, 2012 at 11:37 pm | Report abuse |
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