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. NeededAGoodLaugh

    LMMFAO... even after 6 hours of sleep this article still has me laughing uncontrollably... lol, I can't take it. Everyone at work will receive this one in their inbox today... "Epic Fail" of the decade goes to???

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

      Try getting the 8-10 hours of sleep that your body really needs and maybe delirium will go away and you can stop "LMMFAO" and not look like a fool in a king's court. ;-)~

      August 24, 2012 at 8:56 am | Report abuse |
    • greg2319

      it is funny

      August 24, 2012 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Zoo

      its hilarious because she has unwittingly told it more like it is .....

      August 24, 2012 at 9:14 am | Report abuse |
  2. e

    This is why museums and historic sites do not let the volunteers touch the art.

    August 24, 2012 at 8:27 am | Report abuse |
  3. Hitchens

    Jesus was a fictional Character. No one knows if he existed. How could anyone know what he looked like. If he existed he probably looked like an arab preaching nonsense to bronze age uneducated palestinians. The new picture is closer to Jesus than the original.

    August 24, 2012 at 8:29 am | Report abuse |
    • J

      Quit hating just because he never lived during your time.

      August 24, 2012 at 8:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Zoo

      ROTFLMAO – divine guidance reveals the truth ..... he at least looks middle eastern now .... (you nailed the beard lady) instead of the original: that generic fictional equivalent of its time of a $2 Woolworths rendition.

      August 24, 2012 at 8:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Justsayin

      I don't feel it necessary to defend Jesus but when people like YOU (those who sound bitter in spirit) takes to putting comments about things or people they know nothing about (nor try to learn) then it's time to say something. YOU think that Jesus doesn't exist, YOU think that everyone who isn't like YOU is uneducated...YOU should go somewhere and sit down with this foolish talk. You evidently have nothing better to do but to trash talk in CNN comments. That was just such an unnecessary post Hitchens. And YOU may not like it but I'm going to just pray for you...

      August 24, 2012 at 9:00 am | Report abuse |
    • lund

      I totally agree with you Hitchens! The resemblense is uncanning. lol....After all
      Jesus came from the family of baboons....

      August 24, 2012 at 9:10 am | Report abuse |
    • lund

      The I totally agree with you Hitchens! The resemblance is uncanny. lol....After all
      Jesus came from the family of baboons...

      August 24, 2012 at 9:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Zoo

      Justsayin – to me you would be an illogical fanatic to steer clear of PLEASE DONT pray for me to your non-existent God who no doubt is a man .... read Nietsche instead maybe .....

      August 24, 2012 at 9:18 am | Report abuse |
  4. Mo

    This is one of the funniest news stories I've read in a long time. Someone commented that they keep laughing everytime they think about it, I would agree. It's like looking at a train wreck, you are so appalled that you want to look away.. but you just can't.

    Someone should study this as a case in business school....This is what happen when you hire an inexperienced, or no experience person to do a job, don't manage them, then are shocked what things do not go well.

    August 24, 2012 at 8:39 am | Report abuse |
  5. Lord Jesus

    May be Jesus was her inspiration and she let her hand be guided by Jesus , one hand on herself and other on the painting ...

    August 24, 2012 at 8:42 am | Report abuse |
    • She hears voices

      looks like Mohamed now ...

      August 24, 2012 at 9:27 am | Report abuse |
  6. hb

    So does this finally end the creation versus evolution debate? I am pretty sure now that jesus was the link between man and ape.

    August 24, 2012 at 8:42 am | Report abuse |
  7. Rob

    bah ha ha ha. That is the funniest thing ever!! I needed this.

    August 24, 2012 at 8:46 am | Report abuse |
  8. Joe

    Well, at least she but a little smile on him, so, that's kind of nice

    August 24, 2012 at 8:46 am | Report abuse |
  9. Tim

    She should now try her hand at painting Mohammad...lol. Oh right, there are no paintings of him.

    August 24, 2012 at 8:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Holy Moly

      I think she already has ..... the beard!

      August 24, 2012 at 9:15 am | Report abuse |
  10. J

    Even with the messed up restoration job, he still looks better than most people these days.

    August 24, 2012 at 8:56 am | Report abuse |
  11. J

    More anti-christian propaganda from CNN

    August 24, 2012 at 8:58 am | Report abuse |
  12. G. Zeus Kreiszchte

    So that's what Jeezus looked like?! I knew it! Now we'll be hearing reports of similar images appearing in Cheetos, toast, wood grain, smoke patterns left on walls, etc.

    August 24, 2012 at 9:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Serial ..

      you forgot Coco Pops

      August 24, 2012 at 9:28 am | Report abuse |
  13. Jeana

    This is pretty funny. But all the while they should blame the Church for letting someone who is so inexperienced try to fix a piece of art in need of restoration.

    The end.

    August 24, 2012 at 9:06 am | Report abuse |
  14. jeusu

    cute

    August 24, 2012 at 9:08 am | Report abuse |
  15. Kathleen

    I don't see what is funny about any of this. A work of art has been destroyed by someone's ignorance. This isn't the movie Mr. Bean (which I never saw anyway). This is real. Do people not get that?

    August 24, 2012 at 9:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Hal4500

      It was not destroyed by ignorance; it was destroyed by the church's apathy. They let the painting deteriorate to such a degree that it needed professional restoration, then failed to hire a professional.

      August 24, 2012 at 9:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Ken

      Are you complaining because I can't tell. I'm still laughing to hard at the fact somebody pulled this off. The painting is now a real masterpiece.

      August 24, 2012 at 9:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Kyle

      Some people do get it, that's what makes it funny. The parishioner was just some little old lady with good intentions and she totally butchered the image of Christ in the middle of a church. The utter disaster that many will likely see this as is just another brilliant and hilarious masterpiece, demonstrating the myriad of absurdities and flaws that accompany human nature. Man plans. God laughs. We're so consumed with materialism and our efforts to control and preserve the world around us that many of us fail to get the on-going joke that is humanity. Jesus isn't losing sleep over some tattered old painting and the value of the painting itself is probably going to skyrocket now that it's gotten international attention.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
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