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. Karen

    Aww poor lady..80 yrs old and the world's making fun of your artwork 🙁
    It's gonna take a while for her to live this one down..

    August 24, 2012 at 1:47 am | Report abuse |
    • C Bauer

      Not much of "a while". She's an octogenarian.

      August 24, 2012 at 1:58 am | Report abuse |
  2. Bob


    August 24, 2012 at 1:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Hope


      ALL His Ways are Just and True...

      Hope, signing off.


      August 25, 2012 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
  3. Shyone

    Aw leave her alone. She was given permission to do it and was undoubtedly very sincere. That no one checked first to see if she actually could do it isn't her fault. And, frankly, I think it's an improvement. The original was boring and who has ever heard of Elias Garcia Martinez anyway.

    August 24, 2012 at 1:48 am | Report abuse |
  4. John

    It's the thought that counts.

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

    This is how Jesus actually looked.

    August 24, 2012 at 1:49 am | Report abuse |
  6. C Bauer

    Welcome to Idiocracy! Here much less than 500 years into the future as the film predicted.

    August 24, 2012 at 1:56 am | Report abuse |
  7. C Bauer


    August 24, 2012 at 1:59 am | Report abuse |

    The road to hell is paved with "good intentions".

    August 24, 2012 at 2:08 am | Report abuse |
  9. VoiceOfReason

    The REALLY funny thing is... The restoration looks AT LEAST as much like a man from the middle east -and 2000 years ago- as the original painting. Yeah, right... Sandy-haired, light-eyed white man.... THAT is the real joke!

    August 24, 2012 at 2:11 am | Report abuse |
  10. Ryan

    i keep telling people Jesus was black, this artist just proved it to me by giving Jesus an afro

    August 24, 2012 at 2:12 am | Report abuse |
  11. TheBob

    D'OH!!!! LMAO!!!!!!

    August 24, 2012 at 2:16 am | Report abuse |
  12. Lisa was sweet of her to try her best. I like it. The original artist's family should be pleased with all the new interest.

    August 24, 2012 at 2:17 am | Report abuse |
  13. Mathew

    Who is to say that's not a better likeness of Jesus?

    August 24, 2012 at 2:18 am | Report abuse |
  14. Ryan

    I think it looks great. Jesus definitely needed a shave. He cleans up very well.

    August 24, 2012 at 2:20 am | Report abuse |
  15. Paul

    Hey, when you're on acid, THAT is what Jesus looks like.

    August 24, 2012 at 2:20 am | Report abuse |
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