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. History Bear

    While it wasn't a master's work, it was a fine work in the classical style. WHy in anygods name did they let a freaking beginner with no real background mess with this? He should have his brushes broken and never be allowed near anything classier than an etch a sketch.

    August 24, 2012 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
    • b.o.b. bob

      Yeah becase Cecilia is a guy... can you not read?

      August 24, 2012 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
    • SemperP

      BTW, "he" was a she.

      August 24, 2012 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
  2. Blackcurry

    Congratulations Cecilia Giménez for managing to make the Son of God look like a teletubby with collagen injections in his lips. Whatever makes you think you are an artist????? Any "artist" with a half a grain of sense would have known better than to attempt to fix a masterpiece. That is best left to the professonals, which you obviously are not. If you were killing somebody and "nobody stopped you" would you think it was alright to kill them anyway??? Where is your common sense?

    August 24, 2012 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
    • skeleton_pilot

      In this sense, the church is like the military. Saying no to your superiors is not an option.

      August 24, 2012 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Cheesus

      Blackcurry, please do not chastise anyone for something that you clearly know nothing about. She was told to "Fix It" and she did what she was told. This is a perfect likeness of me.

      August 24, 2012 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Hogan's Goat

      No, she doesn't work for the church. She's old and lives nearby and just came in one day and did this on her own. She was trying to help.

      August 24, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Blackcurry

      Cheesus, you clearly don't know what I know. She was told to "fix it" and she did what she was told? Isn't that the defense the Nazi soldiers used for their torture and murder of millions of Jews? People say no to authority all the time. She didn't have to blindly follow orders. She should have told the priest that she was not the painter to restore the painting. All it would have cost her was a little bit of pride. Instead, she destroyed a piece of artwork that may never be the same. And you, my friend, are an asshat.

      August 24, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Tracy

    I am not what you call an avid art collector or a person who visits museums but I am making this comment due to the fact the restoration of this magnificent piece of work was destroyed by someone who calls themselves an artist. If I was an artist of any talent and I felt I could not restore this piece of beauty to its original as requested I sure as hell would not have attempted to put a brush to it. This artist should be fined heavily.

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

      and you would have been severely punished by the higher ups who told you to paint's a lose lose situation for this lady. I feel bad for her.

      August 24, 2012 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
  4. mmmmmmmmmm

    I'm completely stunned. I mean – what was the job description that she thought she was hired to do? You know – article did not mention whether she still has her position or not. I certainly hope they sent her packing.

    August 24, 2012 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Hogan's Goat

      "what was the job description" No, man, she lived across the street and felt someone needed to fix it up. She's eighty years old.

      August 24, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Hogan's Goat

    She probably covered it with paint the first day, and then everyone waited for God to guide her hand as she restored it perfectly.

    August 24, 2012 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
  6. ArtAppreciator

    What a terrible disservice she has done ... but my question is why would anyone just allow a person with no restorative experience or credentials to handle such a task. Me thinks that the administrator of the church has a questionable responsibility factor just for handing a artwork piece like that over to an elderly church-goer.

    August 24, 2012 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Hogan's Goat

      She did this on her own. I'm thinking she had ruined it in seconds and everyone was hoping she wold reveal a great talent, or God would guide her hand if they let her go on.

      August 24, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  7. DIANA

    I honestly don't know whether to laugh or cry, (most of my tears are from laughing so hard). I was at my dentists office when I saw this for the first time and the dentist didn't have to tell me to open my mouth.

    Didn't they check any of her previous work. I love how she's not blaming herself or what made her think she could do it. Was her previous expereience paint by numbers and she thought it was the same thing. I would give anything to be in the room when she told them she was done. I also think they should keep it, great tourist attraction – don't let this happen to you.

    August 24, 2012 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
  8. IndyGiGi

    Maybe she thought it was supposed to be a picture of ET.

    August 24, 2012 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  9. If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

    This should be left as is ... since it is obviously Gods will.

    August 24, 2012 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  10. Cheesus

    I knew I should never have gotten a perm before I had this painting done!

    August 24, 2012 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  11. Dirty Rotten Hippie

    Nailed it!

    August 24, 2012 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  12. lindaluttrell

    One of my hobbies is painting...I think even I could have done a better job than that! What were these people thinking??? Or...were they?

    August 24, 2012 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
  13. Seamus Callan

    That was "movie" clip was awful.

    August 24, 2012 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  14. Athena12

    Another one for the little church ladies!

    August 24, 2012 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  15. Kiki

    She's Just made it look like a Picasso.

    August 24, 2012 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
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