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. bernard

    haven't laughed for a long time until I read this restoration works. I nearly fainted.Jesus really has a sense of humor.Now I believe. Even in paintings he made laugh so well I forgot all my troubles

    August 24, 2012 at 1:22 am | Report abuse |
  2. Sarah Palin

    it looks fine to me.

    August 24, 2012 at 1:23 am | Report abuse |
  3. theshadowsmoon

    I think I like it better the way this creative lady restored it.

    Priceless hilarity–thank you!

    August 24, 2012 at 1:25 am | Report abuse |
  4. Panties

    Aw, GeezUs! They should've hired a 12 year old girl to restore it.

    August 24, 2012 at 1:28 am | Report abuse |
  5. 2Bob

    It looks like he has had his hand sawn off too!

    August 24, 2012 at 1:30 am | Report abuse |
  6. BoundGodsFan

    This is better and easier than traveling miles to look at a sticky bun or piece of toast with His image.

    August 24, 2012 at 1:31 am | Report abuse |
  7. person that posts on cnn

    I bet this thing goes for 1,000,000

    August 24, 2012 at 1:32 am | Report abuse |
  8. jdoe

    The real scandal is how they let it deteriorate to such a condition in the first place (see center picture). If they cared about it that much they would have taken steps to protect and preserve it. Then they tried to fix it on the cheap. The blame goes to the people in charge of the artwork.

    August 24, 2012 at 1:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Ryan

      Money was ALREADY raised to repair it, the senile lady just didn't bother to ask anyone.

      August 24, 2012 at 1:49 am | Report abuse |
  9. Zobby

    They finally got how Jesus looked actually right.

    August 24, 2012 at 1:36 am | Report abuse |
    • person that posts on cnn

      yeah the reason he was so popular cause he looked all cute and cuddly

      August 24, 2012 at 1:45 am | Report abuse |
  10. Marty

    This is an intentional hoax. They painted over the original, made it weird, turned it into a sensation, and now will profit from the boost in tourism. Either that, or she's schizophrenic like Louis Wain. Either that, or Jesus really was a face-shaved demonic monkey coughing up a slug.

    August 24, 2012 at 1:41 am | Report abuse |
  11. NeededAGoodLaugh

    This is how Jesus looked after too many glasses of his famous red wine.

    August 24, 2012 at 1:41 am | Report abuse |
  12. ricoshey

    Looks like an acid burn victim.

    August 24, 2012 at 1:42 am | Report abuse |
  13. Janice

    I'll be darned if this story turns out to be a hoax and CNN picked it up without verifying.

    August 24, 2012 at 1:45 am | Report abuse |
    • bobcat

      The BBC ran it a few days ago.

      August 24, 2012 at 2:11 am | Report abuse |
  14. andrew

    She turned Jesus into a CHOW

    August 24, 2012 at 1:46 am | Report abuse |
  15. Dify

    I love how CNN has articles whining about copyright infringement and piracy, but here they are linked to a really long youtube clip taken from a movie and uploaded by somebody who has no rights to use it. Nice hypocrisy, CNN!

    August 24, 2012 at 1:46 am | Report abuse |
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