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. philly grl

    Maybe she thought Jesus was cold and needed a hood. LOL! I'm sorry, but that is too funny!

    August 24, 2012 at 9:57 am | Report abuse |
    • JusThinkin

      i cant stop laughing either! LOL!!!

      August 24, 2012 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
  2. Tonee_Rhian_Rose

    I don't blame the old woman for ruining this painting. Why didn't they have a professional painter restore it? She clearly didn't know how to paint cause it looks like something a child would do. SMH

    August 24, 2012 at 9:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Easy E

      She didn't know what she was doing, so she shouldn't have even touched it. There are no excuses for this kind of idiotic behavior. Art is not something to be demolished by the stupid just because "they had good intentions". She has deprived countless present and future generations from enjoyment of a priceless work because she is a stupid, irresponsible, worthless POS, and to top it off, she's playing the victim card and refusing to take any responsiblity.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:13 am | Report abuse |
  3. Jose

    Looks like a Picasso painting now.

    August 24, 2012 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Easy E

      Even Picasso wasn't this much of a hack.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:13 am | Report abuse |
  4. Genius

    Darwin, Nietsche and Marcel Duchamp would all be proud ... if not rolling in their grave laughing.

    August 24, 2012 at 10:02 am | Report abuse |
  5. Steve Watts

    No one really knows what Jesus looked like and since it's all made up – let's go with it! Looks stupid to me, but so does the other one.

    August 24, 2012 at 10:02 am | Report abuse |
  6. blobster

    This is an incredibly poorly written store, even for CNN.

    August 24, 2012 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Gee Gog

      Poorly written comment too!

      August 24, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  7. JusThinkin

    OHHH.... this is terrible, but i cant STOP LAUGHING!

    August 24, 2012 at 10:05 am | Report abuse |
  8. Jesus

    I was actually trying to find some honey that day and was stung by many bees.

    August 24, 2012 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
  9. Pac-Man

    You get what you pay for, apparently.

    August 24, 2012 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
  10. chilipepper

    Looks like Cheetah from Tarzan

    August 24, 2012 at 10:10 am | Report abuse |
  11. 2000 Year Old Man

    I think she probably knew Jesus, because that pretty much looks like the way I remember him.

    August 24, 2012 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
  12. Bob Jones


    August 24, 2012 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
  13. Easy E

    Why is this funny? Even if you don't care for the religion, the art value here is enormous. I can clearly see now why our society and country is falling apart, no one has any respect for true culture anymore. We are witness to a bunch of mindless fools reveling in their own self-destruction.

    August 24, 2012 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
  14. psbfla

    "Parishioner Cecilia Giménez said she was asked by the church to fix things up." Question 1) Did Ms. Gimenez have any prior experience fixing up artwork and did anyone bother to ask? Question 2) Did the church have an accessible defibulator nearby?

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

      Cecelia is Jewish. Nice work.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
  15. werthrough

    Well, it will be a fitting image for the US in a year or two as the 3rd pic looks like a Mexican Jesus LOL!

    August 24, 2012 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
    • werthrough

      with a Giant Fajita rolled up in front of him LOL!

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