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. Antiques Roadshow

    Is that Rosie O'Donnell?

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

    Our Savior is Curious George?

    August 23, 2012 at 11:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • james bronz


      August 24, 2012 at 7:22 am | Report abuse |
  3. Jerry Dansucky

    Maybe if the priests weren't so busy molesting little boys, they would have noticed this a lot sooner.

    August 23, 2012 at 11:40 pm | Report abuse |
  4. james bronz

    Aww man that's F&%@#* up. LOL

    August 23, 2012 at 11:41 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jim

    Maybe it's a symbolic display showing the U.S. economy from left to right; first 2000, then 2008, then 2012! I think they nailed it!

    August 23, 2012 at 11:41 pm | Report abuse |
  6. tk47

    It's an owl...

    August 23, 2012 at 11:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • james bronz


      August 24, 2012 at 7:23 am | Report abuse |
  7. james

    The nose and mouth make the job A1

    August 23, 2012 at 11:42 pm | Report abuse |
  8. blaqb0x

    Isn't that what someone that's over 2000 years old supposed to look like?

    August 23, 2012 at 11:43 pm | Report abuse |
  9. C.K. Brechin

    Reblogged this on Look-Solutions and commented:
    Sad but this made us laugh !

    August 23, 2012 at 11:44 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Calrissan

    I'm calling "BS"! Obviously this is just another attempt to drum up "business" by the honest and holy priests!
    Also remember, never leave your children alone in a church!

    August 23, 2012 at 11:44 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Sam Jones

    Thank God the comments posted here indicate humans are still living in the dark ages. I was afraid we would get too far ahead of ourselves. Read 'Utopia of Fools' to get a reality check. We believe in 'Gods' while none of us has seen one. We don't believe in aliens while none of us has seen one. Jesus, save me.

    August 23, 2012 at 11:45 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Gee Gog

    Why is her interpretation any less important that those of the "Masters"? And it looks to me like a fine example of folk art. Why should "art" be defined by pretentious snobs? Art is created by the people and belongs to the people!

    August 23, 2012 at 11:45 pm | Report abuse |
  13. gdouglaso

    I feel bad that I feel so good about something so bad.

    August 23, 2012 at 11:46 pm | Report abuse |
  14. DK

    This story is what is wrong with most "Christians"..
    Do you think Jesus would care more about how a parishioner was treated for trying to do a good work – or how perfect the painting is??
    Maybe time to study the bible.. bible thumpers..

    August 23, 2012 at 11:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • eureka!

      Amen. I see Jesus in a new way. lol

      August 23, 2012 at 11:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hooligan

      I care less about what the painting is OF and more so what it IS.. which is an important piece of artwork.

      And that comes from an Atheist.

      August 23, 2012 at 11:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Norm

      Yeah yeah...we know.
      You're so much better than the "Christians".

      August 24, 2012 at 12:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Antichrist

      The Bible was written by men, not this fictional "God thing" you keep pushing on us. Jesus got pwnd!

      August 24, 2012 at 12:09 am | Report abuse |
    • DK

      Thanks for the well thought out commentary.. norm the troll.

      August 24, 2012 at 12:10 am | Report abuse |
    • ready

      sigh.... militant atheists again. I am atheist and can't get how some atheists are religious atheists that do wild leaps in logic similar to christians.

      Its not about religion at all at this point. Its about restoring art and the cities heritage. DERP. Seriously is this not obvious to you? Oh wait you are fanatic religious atheists, forgot. Might as well be talking about the taliban and the merits of Buddhist statuary.

      August 24, 2012 at 12:11 am | Report abuse |
  15. blinky

    I don't see why CNN ran this as a lead story, except to attract peabrained snarkers. It is looking like they are CNN's number one audience. You don't have to be religious to see this was a well-crafted fresco mangled by an amateur restorer.

    August 23, 2012 at 11:52 pm | Report abuse |
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