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. Rissa

    That's restored huh? ....hmm, interesting.

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

      It looks exactly like MY Jesus.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
  2. Nelson Cabrera

    No god given talent there ;(

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

      And without godly qualities....

      August 24, 2012 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
  3. Ben Kelzow

    That's the best restoration in Art history. You're never old to be famous.

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

    It was God's will to deface what looks like a 1st century WANTED poster of His son.
    Now everyone will be looking for a howler monkey.

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

      LMAO! Funny stuff there.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Hope

      That is one of the funniest responses I've ever read. Thanks for the good belly laugh.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Wombat


      August 24, 2012 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
  5. Gerry

    I think she did a fine job.

    August 24, 2012 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
  6. illuminasty

    Maybe that's Jesus REALLY looked like. We don't know. we weren't there.

    August 24, 2012 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
  7. GenericMan

    I think it looks like an Ewok.

    August 24, 2012 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
  8. strangways

    my basement needs painting. anyone have her number?

    August 24, 2012 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
  9. drew picture of Jesus is just as good as another....what's the problem?

    August 24, 2012 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
  10. Lancaster

    With the right connections, I'm sure the "restorer" could show in NY.

    August 24, 2012 at 10:31 am | Report abuse |
  11. myloridarlin

    I am hoping this is some kind of

    August 24, 2012 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
  12. metekamil

    This is what happens when you DON'T use Angies List!!!! haha

    August 24, 2012 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
  13. BravoBella

    I like her new rendition. It looks just like MY Jesus. No kidding. She captured him perfectly. Bravo Cecelia! She should restore ALL pictures of Jesus.

    August 24, 2012 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
  14. Pam

    That is NOT the original painting! Not one of the markings from the original are remotely close the "restoration" painting....from his crown of thorns, to the direction of his eyes.
    For whatever the reason, someone is trying to pull a fast one! I would start with a call to the local authorities and an expert that can verify the authenticity.


    August 24, 2012 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      It's a mural on a wall, one hell of a bate and switch pam.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Walker

      Looks like the same painting, it's just touched/painted over by someone with NO artistic ability what-so-ever. Why didn't the church hire a professional? Now this work of art is nothing but a joke and the person who did this has no business in art.

      August 24, 2012 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Rebeca

      Believe it or not it is the real deal. I happen to be a Spaniard myself and at first I thought it was some sort of internet prank until I paid attention to the local news. A proper restoration by a group of experts was actually in talks, but this 80 year old parishioner -unaware of this- just took matters into her hands and voila! It's being said that this was done in a couple of hours and the priest denies knowing of it. Authorities are reporting that she turned herself in saying she just wanted to retouch the parts were the paint was missing but that quote "things got out of hand". Since nobody stopped her she thought it was ok. I guess she got carried away and the result...unbelievable to say the least.

      August 24, 2012 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  15. Stephen H (Charlotte,NC)

    she definitely has confident in her ability. maybe she is related to Picaso....4th generation maybe?

    August 24, 2012 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
    • mmmmmmmmmm

      so not funny

      August 24, 2012 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
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