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.

["cnn-video url="]

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.”

Post by: ,
Filed under: Art • Spain
soundoff (1,299 Responses)
  1. tta

    the american art forger ken perenyi should help out?

    August 24, 2012 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  2. mdmooser

    I am a painter, as long as you have the reference which you do above and I take it there are even more photos of it prior to this version of restoration, this painting not only can be as great as it was but also with the type of restoration that should have been done in the first place made to it's previous glory when created. This is not a question, this is a fact. A good painter would take the time and do a great job, no question.

    August 24, 2012 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
  3. kevin

    OK, now that my laughing slowed down enough to type I have to say .....well...after all the other comments...well..still chuckling...I'm glad nobody stopped her 'cause it made my day....nuf said

    August 24, 2012 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Damian

      Mine too! I can't stop laughing everytime I look at the paintings!!

      August 24, 2012 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
  4. Cooper

    This has to be the best story of the year. (not being sacrilegious here) Love Mr Bean and this story made me laugh so hard, I had tears in my eyes. Hope someone is able to save the work of art. Comments have also been great.

    August 24, 2012 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
  5. NewsJunkiex911


    August 24, 2012 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
  6. Damian

    I think when the church asked her to "fix things up" they did not explicitly said do it yourself. Maybe they meant take this money and hire someone competent.

    August 24, 2012 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
  7. Damian

    I'm sorry but this story cracks me up! LMFAO!!! I only hope the old woman is not n any kind of trouble afterall she was just trying to help.

    August 24, 2012 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
  8. zoyster1

    Let me see, the woman doing the "restoring" is blaming other because they didn't stop her? This is how Liberalism infects people all over the world – Liberals don't take responsibility for their own actions and always blame others to make themselves appear to be the victims.

    August 24, 2012 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
  9. kevin

    You all are assuming that this lady has finished her restoration....she's just taking a break and the final work will be just as good as the soon as she gets back on her med's, or off her med's, or on different med's, or she just needs a new paint brush, or.....laughing laughing ...the "restored scroll rollup" at the bottom would get a C grade in 9th grade art class. Not to bad.

    August 24, 2012 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
  10. T-Drive

    I cant believe how bad this turned out, What did she do mush the painting into one smear blob? However I like the green background better than the original so I will give her props for that.

    August 24, 2012 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  11. Someblackguy

    Autism paints...

    August 24, 2012 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  12. Raven

    What a shame they should have hired someone to restore this.. but what a funny comparison!!! LMAO 🙂

    August 24, 2012 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  13. Damian

    THe Mr. Bean clip is priceless!!

    August 24, 2012 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
  14. tracy

    the only thing that would ahve made this funnier is if his head was tilted the opposite way

    August 24, 2012 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
  15. James Caan

    Is CNN allowed to link to a YouTube video that is clearly copyright infringed?

    August 24, 2012 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
    • MikeB

      Are people allowed to use the names of famous celebrities to post inane comments on message boards?

      August 24, 2012 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      I don't think "James Caan" is profiting from this .. but CNN is.

      August 24, 2012 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Timmy2211

      There is something called fair use. Look it up.

      August 24, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59