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 Euronews.com. “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.

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. Gavin Ford

    Original: man before he invented relgion. New version: what religion has done to man,

    August 24, 2012 at 1:01 am | Report abuse |
  2. Not me

    Another case of "You get what you pay for"...

    August 24, 2012 at 1:02 am | Report abuse |
    • I wonder

      Yeah, they'll get some copy-artist to feel sorry for them and come in and fix it for free (and for publicity) Win - Win all around!

      August 24, 2012 at 1:17 am | Report abuse |
  3. sigmond seamonster

    Christ would probably laugh too. The restoration is pretty funny. Which pretty much negates all the mockery of Jesus Christ down immediately. Laugh on. We should all be laughing more. The face now has a strange resemblance in bowl shaped and eye intensity to Netanyahu's

    August 24, 2012 at 1:03 am | Report abuse |
    • pockets

      Your right I thought the same thing when I saw it Benjamin looks just like that.

      August 24, 2012 at 1:17 am | Report abuse |
  4. Rizwan

    I ended up watching the whole movie on youtube!!!

    August 24, 2012 at 1:05 am | Report abuse |
  5. Rick

    The restorer turned Jesus Christ into The Screamer.

    August 24, 2012 at 1:05 am | Report abuse |
  6. Rick

    This is proof that Jesus didn't really die for our sins. He just had a makeover malfunction.

    August 24, 2012 at 1:07 am | Report abuse |
  7. amused

    They should rename the fresco to "Ecce Gnomo" (Behold the Gnome)...

    August 24, 2012 at 1:10 am | Report abuse |
  8. kotchi

    It's just a painting...get a life,,,,I painted a picture of my female dog lifting her one hind leg to have a pee....wow..show me the money..dear artists..get a real job

    August 24, 2012 at 1:11 am | Report abuse |
  9. QQQQ

    Jesus is now an Alien wearing a Jesus costume. No one will ever notice!

    August 24, 2012 at 1:12 am | Report abuse |
  10. junior

    what a freak, messed up job, I have been painting as a hobby for all my life, I think I could have been more careful. this painter must be guilty of something and should receive a couple of hundred lashes. What a fool

    August 24, 2012 at 1:15 am | Report abuse |
  11. NanH

    I don't know, I think the mouth has a Cezanne look to it. The lady has a new and brilliant career!

    August 24, 2012 at 1:19 am | Report abuse |
  12. Daniel

    An improvement, in my opinion!

    August 24, 2012 at 1:20 am | Report abuse |
  13. Shaolin Sword

    This is hands down the funniest comments board I have ever seen. I had no idea there were so many wags in the world. My faith in humanity has been restored.

    August 24, 2012 at 1:20 am | Report abuse |
  14. Lauren

    Well, what did they expect, really?? I find this hysterically funny!!!

    Can I paint over the Mona Lisa?? I still have my finger painting skills!!!

    August 24, 2012 at 1:21 am | Report abuse |
  15. NeededAGoodLaugh

    It looked like she was painting one of those Russian dolls... the ones that keep getting smaller every time you open it... Can't stop thinking about the New Jesus Painting to remember the name of those dolls... But this is too funny... May the Jesus in this painting bless this old lady... She has brought joy to many with her artistic abilities.

    August 24, 2012 at 1:22 am | Report abuse |
    • BoundGodsFan

      The Nesting Dolls? Too funny!

      August 24, 2012 at 1:27 am | Report abuse |
    • NeededAGoodLaugh

      Thank you... I wish I could save this story forever... Much needed comedy relief... This old lady deserves a Nobel prize for touching peoples hearts and feeling them with laughter.

      August 24, 2012 at 1:34 am | Report abuse |
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