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. hangar13

    I thought commenters on CNN's site were the lowest form of life on the planet. After reading these posts, I apologize for overestimating them.

    August 24, 2012 at 9:19 am | Report abuse |
    • PantyRaid

      You're an аssholе

      August 24, 2012 at 9:40 am | Report abuse |
    • jennygirl

      what does that make you?

      August 24, 2012 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
  2. Mole Man

    It looks like the restoration was a complete success.

    August 24, 2012 at 9:21 am | Report abuse |
  3. Kyle

    Looks like the lovechild of an Ewok and ET grew a neckbeard. I really love the way she captured the passion in those eyes.

    August 24, 2012 at 9:27 am | Report abuse |
  4. Tim

    'The center says it doesn't know if the "restoration" can be fixed.'
    Here's a possible solution – tear it up and start over. Spain's economy is in the dumper right now so there should be plenty of hungry artists at the bottom of the socio economic spectrum willing to create a new and improved version. Important tip: just make sure they can draw before hiring.

    August 24, 2012 at 9:27 am | Report abuse |
    • TA

      Except it was painted on a wall...

      August 24, 2012 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
  5. Norm



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

    Well, Granny ought to be sainted.

    August 24, 2012 at 9:29 am | Report abuse |
  7. Hal4500

    Church allows famous painting to fall into disrepair, then asks parishioner with no experience in art restoration to "fix things up" at the behest of a third-party group. Church and group both promptly blame parishioner with no experience in art restoration for failing to restore art properly.

    Yay for personal responsibility!

    August 24, 2012 at 9:29 am | Report abuse |
  8. Ronald McDonald

    What's with all the hate from the art critic snobs? Do you feel there's only one interpretation of the original artist's intent?

    I say all she needs to do is paint the hair red and add a smiley face sun and then this image will make a nifty refrigerator magnet that could be used as a give away toy in a Happy Meal.

    August 24, 2012 at 9:29 am | Report abuse |

      HAHAHAAA! I Love it!

      August 24, 2012 at 9:40 am | Report abuse |
  9. FlushlimpBalls

    It's Bush's fault

    August 24, 2012 at 9:37 am | Report abuse |
  10. Calvin

    Frankly, the restoration is an improvement. It just needed a red nose . And if the restorer was inspired by Mr. Bean, Its great seeing life being inspired by grand art.

    August 24, 2012 at 9:37 am | Report abuse |
  11. PantyRaid

    He's already tired from fuсking your mother.

    August 24, 2012 at 9:42 am | Report abuse |
  12. Pika

    Bwahahahaha, it looks like a Gibbon! WOOOPS!

    August 24, 2012 at 9:42 am | Report abuse |
  13. Carl NYC

    More about the same town:

    August 24, 2012 at 9:51 am | Report abuse |
  14. What?

    OK, so I have this visual of an old woman holding her thumb up at arms length with her eyes squinting and her tongue stuck out as she waves her dripping paintbrush towards this artwork.

    So the question I have is, what were the folks around her doing while this went down??? OMG, what a mess!!!!

    August 24, 2012 at 9:52 am | Report abuse |
    • bob

      Jesus clearly has an afro....

      August 24, 2012 at 10:28 am | Report abuse |
  15. Mole Man

    So now we know, Jesus was a teletubby.

    August 24, 2012 at 9:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Ashley

      omg I so just choked on my coffee! You made my day lol

      August 24, 2012 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Austin


      August 24, 2012 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
    • hipster

      Mole man, that is hilarious!

      P.S. – I love you on the Simpsons. Keep up the good work!

      August 24, 2012 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Canadian Beaver

      That's friggin' hilarious !!

      August 24, 2012 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
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