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. Lover of art

    Don't get em in a wad. This is certainly not meant to bash Christianity. We are talking about one person, could've been anyone, who ruined a beautiful, classic piece of artwork that happened to be in a church. That's it. No more. No less.

    August 24, 2012 at 12:19 am | Report abuse |
  2. John Vance

    I just came onto this post and I haven't read all the entries but this is really strange, Did someone really do this?

    August 24, 2012 at 12:20 am | Report abuse |
  3. Willi

    I laughed my head off. Mr. Bean made this.

    August 24, 2012 at 12:21 am | Report abuse |
  4. DK

    The world could do with one less artist..

    August 24, 2012 at 12:21 am | Report abuse |
  5. George

    Oh, I get it, Obama hired her.

    August 24, 2012 at 12:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Deshootes

      Or what happens when Romney cuts all funding to the arts to pay for his subsidies to big oil.

      August 24, 2012 at 12:33 am | Report abuse |
  6. John Tucker

    From Christ experiencing the divine ecstasy


    Smiling Sasquatch in too small a robe offers you a jelly roil and perhaps more.

    August 24, 2012 at 12:22 am | Report abuse |
  7. conniek5256

    i think he modeled it after a cabbage patch doll??? wat a shame 🙁

    August 24, 2012 at 12:25 am | Report abuse |
  8. M2M

    She took Martinez from obscurity to world wide fame. A notable artist can repair the damage using photographs of what it used to be, it's not like it's a Picaso and it was seriously damaged anyway. Try again.

    August 24, 2012 at 12:25 am | Report abuse |
  9. us_1776

    Looks like one of the characters on South Park.


    August 24, 2012 at 12:25 am | Report abuse |
  10. Daniel

    That's terrible , but that is what you get for letting an idiot work on a supposedly a masterpiece , so it's the church to blame .

    August 24, 2012 at 12:26 am | Report abuse |
  11. Eric

    The Food Channel is running a special about how she restored the jelly roll at the bottom.

    August 24, 2012 at 12:27 am | Report abuse |
  12. John

    It does make you wonder... did she actually think things were going all right? "okay, the eyes look good... moving on..."

    August 24, 2012 at 12:28 am | Report abuse |
  13. Penny Nickels

    If this had been a "restoration" to a Da Vinci painting......

    August 24, 2012 at 12:28 am | Report abuse |
  14. BoundGodsFan

    Maybe He gave her other talents that we just don't see. I'm sure He forgives her.

    August 24, 2012 at 12:29 am | Report abuse |
    • hues

      Agreed. A God of forgiveness would have a good chuckle over a material object that was botched by good intentions. Only materialistic judgmental humans would rip into an elderly woman who put her love and time into fixing a painting the best she knew how. It was already destroyed to begin with! 😀

      August 24, 2012 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  15. athiestbob

    US healthcaresystem – Before
    Obamacare- After

    August 24, 2012 at 12:30 am | Report abuse |
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