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. jaybird

    That's what happens when you let a politically Conservative churchter "Christian" female attempt to restore an artistic masterpiece. So, who appointed her? Another "bright" churchter? Really now, why on EARTH, let these inane morons act as conservators in the first place?

    August 24, 2012 at 4:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Klaas Jan

      You should try reading the article next time before you embarrass yourself.

      August 24, 2012 at 5:04 am | Report abuse |
    • terry

      Don't you have another Simpsons episode to watch?

      August 24, 2012 at 6:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Samson

      Reminds me of our governments lowest bidder program.

      August 24, 2012 at 8:13 am | Report abuse |
  2. jay

    I just looked at the pictures again. His mouth is crooket. Like a before and after he had a stroke.

    August 24, 2012 at 5:00 am | Report abuse |
  3. rocinante

    Its just some no-name 20th century artist, so who cares? Might as well be talking about how some dude defaced my Art 101 charcoal sketches in college. Although that's hardly comparable since my charcoal sketches from Art 101 showed a certain amount of brilliance that's not shown in that pedestrian Jesus fresco.

    August 24, 2012 at 5:03 am | Report abuse |
  4. Innocent Bystander

    It's Korean Jesus!

    August 24, 2012 at 5:08 am | Report abuse |
  5. chilipepper

    Also has ALF eyes

    August 24, 2012 at 6:39 am | Report abuse |
  6. bipolart

    I LOL'd at the idea of it being a tourist attraction. Yes, it does have Alf eyes.

    August 24, 2012 at 6:46 am | Report abuse |
  7. Emilia

    The Goblin of Borja hehe

    August 24, 2012 at 7:10 am | Report abuse |
  8. JAB62

    Looks like she has a little Picasso in her too.

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

    In the right museum, and without the paintings history, there are many an art critic who would find the final piece a masterpiece... Don't think so, Remember how famous a painting of a can of campbell soup has become. Don't forget "p-ss christ", funded by your tax dollars... to name a few.

    August 24, 2012 at 7:26 am | Report abuse |
  10. Mike

    I love it!!!!! Instead of a painting by some obscure 19th painter, we now have a masterpiece resembling a Picasso. In fact, it's better than anything Picasso has done. You go girl.

    August 24, 2012 at 7:31 am | Report abuse |
  11. Sam Weston

    So they are letting jo-jo the chimp loose on church paintings now eh...nice.

    August 24, 2012 at 7:34 am | Report abuse |
  12. lew

    It does look like art in its own right and may be worth something in another 100 years.

    August 24, 2012 at 7:37 am | Report abuse |
  13. Jeff

    Reminds me of a Seinfeld episode in which George has a picture on his boss's desk (with him in it) modified so George is taken out. They put in a cartoon face of his boss.

    August 24, 2012 at 7:41 am | Report abuse |
  14. Calrissan

    I'm calling "BS"! Obviously this is just another attempt to drum up "business" by the honest and holy priests!
    Also remember, never leave your children alone in a church!

    August 24, 2012 at 8:05 am | Report abuse |
  15. AGeek

    Relax, all right? My old man is a television repairman, he's got this ultimate set of tools. I can fix it.

    August 24, 2012 at 8:20 am | Report abuse |
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