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. Gryla

    Actually this new version looks much more like Jesus than the original did.

    August 24, 2012 at 12:47 am | Report abuse |
  2. BoundGodsFan

    Does anyone feel a Mel Gibson movie being written as we speak?

    August 24, 2012 at 12:48 am | Report abuse |
  3. WhoCares

    Good thing he doesn't exist, or else someone would be in trouble.

    August 24, 2012 at 12:48 am | Report abuse |
    • gf

      i LOVE the sensationalism. woooooot!!!

      August 24, 2012 at 12:59 am | Report abuse |
  4. Peters


    August 24, 2012 at 12:48 am | Report abuse |
  5. us_1776

    Who let's an 81 year old woman go up on a 15 ft. ladder anyway?


    August 24, 2012 at 12:49 am | Report abuse |
    • BoundGodsFan

      Someone who's a beneficary to her estate.

      August 24, 2012 at 12:51 am | Report abuse |
  6. Danny Boatright

    This is the most confusing and poorly written article I have ever read.

    August 24, 2012 at 12:50 am | Report abuse |
  7. DougD

    Looks like an El Greco Paint By Numbers now.............. in life you get what you pay for.

    August 24, 2012 at 12:50 am | Report abuse |
  8. Xavier

    I'd be very careful about joking about something like this. Fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.

    August 24, 2012 at 12:51 am | Report abuse |
    • BoundGodsFan

      Didn't God make this woman do this? He has a sense humor, so should you!

      August 24, 2012 at 12:57 am | Report abuse |
    • NorCalMojo

      I bet Jesus is laughing too.

      August 24, 2012 at 12:58 am | Report abuse |
    • gf

      hahhha, SENSATIONAL!!! wooooooppppeeeeee!!!!

      August 24, 2012 at 1:00 am | Report abuse |
    • P.Y.Cote

      What does "Fear of God is the beginning of wisdom" have to do with a painting, of what an artist imagines in his minds eye, what the "Christ" (defined as "Anointed One" "appointed by God") may look like. For all we know, that is a painting of a fallen angel.

      August 24, 2012 at 1:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Genius

      ... first she was lobotomized by religion and then she painted this .... brilliant

      August 24, 2012 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
    • no

      OK, go ahead and be very careful.

      August 24, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Zobby

    I think it looks better than before.

    August 24, 2012 at 12:52 am | Report abuse |
  10. Pnm9pnm

    Oo well that's oddly c?pnm.

    August 24, 2012 at 12:52 am | Report abuse |
  11. Discordia Nocturnum

    It looks like a Picasso styled Jesus...

    August 24, 2012 at 12:55 am | Report abuse |
    • NorCalMojo

      Some Munch in there too.

      August 24, 2012 at 1:03 am | Report abuse |
  12. Dave

    Showing Jesus as a cartoon is the most realistic thing I have seen in a long time.

    August 24, 2012 at 12:55 am | Report abuse |
  13. BoundGodsFan

    This would make a great "Golden Girls" episode. "Maaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!!!"

    August 24, 2012 at 12:56 am | Report abuse |
    • BoundGodsFan

      "But Dorthy....."

      August 24, 2012 at 1:00 am | Report abuse |
    • pockets

      It looks like the last picture is of Norman Christ, the brother of the late Jesus Christ. The whole Christ family will be upset with this.

      August 24, 2012 at 1:16 am | Report abuse |
  14. Rios3690

    I almost died from laughing so hard!

    August 24, 2012 at 12:58 am | Report abuse |
    • pockets

      If you die will you come back in 3 days? Can you believe that Mormon's believe that the Garden of Eden was actually located in Missouri? Go figure.......and here I thought it was in Ohio all this time....silly me. Hey and when you die you get your own planet.....and you want this man to be President.....I don't thinkkkkkkkkkkk so.

      August 24, 2012 at 1:19 am | Report abuse |
  15. BoundGodsFan

    He looks like He ran into glass door.

    August 24, 2012 at 1:01 am | Report abuse |
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