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. Major Tom

    Jesus was an Eskimo?

    August 24, 2012 at 2:21 am | Report abuse |
  2. Franco

    OMG!!! She turned into a PICASSO!! Now it's worth 1000 times more!!!

    August 24, 2012 at 2:29 am | Report abuse |
  3. Colin

    I think this is a divinen work of God to tell us Jesus really does not look like that and we should destroy this idol!.....lol God has a great sense of humor... LOL. Definitely very humorous.

    Christian.

    August 24, 2012 at 2:45 am | Report abuse |
  4. EuphoricCrest

    Leave it alone and rename it "Ecce Hobo."

    August 24, 2012 at 2:48 am | Report abuse |
  5. Wr

    Wow. This article is so poorly written it's hard to tell what happened. The BBC article is much clearer. Can anyone at CNN write?

    August 24, 2012 at 2:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Southerner01

      CNN asked a parishoner to restore this article. They didn't hide to do it.

      August 24, 2012 at 5:44 am | Report abuse |
  6. YorkyRoyal

    The story is like a comedy, Mr. Bean did somehting similar to this. I could reverse the damage, especially when there are pictures of the original, but then, it would be no longer the same.

    August 24, 2012 at 2:50 am | Report abuse |
  7. Sparky

    Wow, Jesus's pupils are REALLY dilated.

    August 24, 2012 at 3:00 am | Report abuse |
  8. JC

    To lose a piece of art to such carelessness is ridiculous. Didn't anybody see the lady doing it? I mean it is one thing if a child took crayons to it, but this was a willful (well intentioned though it might have been, hope nobody told the old lady what the road to hell is paid with).

    In any event, stuff like this irritates me to no end. Had I seen her doing it myself I would have forcibly removed her from the Church.

    August 24, 2012 at 3:13 am | Report abuse |
  9. sandcanyongal

    Jesus Christ, whoever did this needs a big boot in the you know where. That gorgeous old painting is sure screwed up,

    August 24, 2012 at 3:16 am | Report abuse |
    • rick

      i agree. i feel bad for her. she really screwed the pooch on this

      August 24, 2012 at 7:22 am | Report abuse |
  10. Kyanzes

    It's still very much recognizable. Everyone who sees it says "Jesus!"

    August 24, 2012 at 3:25 am | Report abuse |
  11. Cameron

    Wow here is a good example of the lowest bidder! And mismanagement by the person in charge. Someone intelligent should have been overseeing the sub consultants work and questioning every step step, which I guess brings up the question, who is the person who hired the artist and review her credentials! Who is really at fault?

    August 24, 2012 at 3:28 am | Report abuse |
    • mdmann

      Did you not read the story? This was a parishioner of the church. She had no credentials. She had no business doing this kind of work. She claims she was asked to do it by the church. Why they would do that is not made clear.

      August 24, 2012 at 4:56 am | Report abuse |
  12. learnersstreak

    they spilled it.

    August 24, 2012 at 3:50 am | Report abuse |
  13. DKJ

    This is the funniest thing that I have seen in years.

    I have no talent when it comes to paint or glue. I always end up with massive gobs of smeared paint followed by the complete disaster that follows in my attempts at repair. I KNOW FIRST HAND HOW THIS HAPPENED!

    I am sorry that the town lost a masterpiece.

    August 24, 2012 at 3:55 am | Report abuse |
    • NanH

      They gained a new one!

      August 24, 2012 at 4:15 am | Report abuse |
    • jay

      Me too. I thought it was a joke, but it wasn't.

      August 24, 2012 at 4:46 am | Report abuse |
    • mdmann

      I can't even look at the picture without laughing hysterically. She murdered that thing!

      August 24, 2012 at 4:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Redhead in Cary

      OMG! The arm looks like a jellyroll about to be cut into slices for pinwheel cookies. I feel bad the restoration didn't go as planned, but I had a good chuckle on this one. All I could think of was Mr. Bean's version of "Whistler's Mother"!

      August 24, 2012 at 6:32 am | Report abuse |
    • pamik

      A real insult to Mr. Bean!

      August 24, 2012 at 6:33 am | Report abuse |
  14. BlueAlligator

    Ha! Ha! Ha! Idiots

    August 24, 2012 at 4:14 am | Report abuse |
    • doubledees

      My 10 year old grandson could have done a better job.........what a shame!!!!!

      August 24, 2012 at 6:58 am | Report abuse |
  15. fedupwithla

    It actually looks like a Picasso if you ask me – distorted features, early twentieth-century cubism. No one criticized his work, but many criticize hers. That's Spain for ya!

    August 24, 2012 at 4:30 am | Report abuse |
    • terry

      I agree!

      August 24, 2012 at 6:35 am | Report abuse |
    • willy

      It looks like shes not finished No beard yet Not many paintings look " good " in the middle of creation By the time you add face hair most of the distortion will be covered up Give it another 40 hours

      August 24, 2012 at 7:23 am | Report abuse |
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