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 Euronews.com. “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.

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. Allah

    stupid religious nonsense. Jesus NEVER existed!

    August 24, 2012 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • jigglypuff

      That would actually be very highly improbable. You may believe that the "son of God" aspect about him did not exist. But as a human it is very likely he did and was the most influential being to walk the earth hands down.

      August 24, 2012 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jen

      Well.. he did exist. Whether he was the son of god is to be debated, for sure, but I believe there is historical evidence for his existance.

      August 24, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andy

      If he did exist, and he wasn't the son of God, he was a fraud.

      August 24, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      To me it's most likely that someone, who we now refer to as Jesus did live, like countless other street preachers, this one was just marketed better. No magic or son of a God(s) here, just a marketing image that people have used and which has evolved to meet current needs over hundreds of years.

      August 24, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sophy

      Hey guys!! Look at me! I'm ignorant. But I'm smarterer than religious folks.

      August 24, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • YBP

      There are numerous academic studies on this topic. There is no historical evidence of a real-life Jesus. Zero.

      August 24, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Daniel

      Then why are you called Allah? Jesus is an important prophet in Islam, and goes by his Arabic name of Isa. You cannot be Muslim and deny Jesus. You can deny his divinity, but not his existence.

      August 24, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sophy

      Reaally? Cite one study that has been cited by more than 10 other scholars–good luck. Whether Jesus was the son of god is a question of faith, but the facts overwhelmingly suggest that he did in fact exist. And the majority of scholars agree on that.

      August 24, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  2. StrikeForce

    Nailed it!

    August 24, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
  3. lbpauline

    Looking at the restoration: did anybody tell the lady that Jesus Christ was suffering for sore throats and ears? I mean...what about the scarf?

    August 24, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Lilith

    It now looks like Mohamed .. Someone might need to go all jihad over this!

    August 24, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
  5. davidlackey

    Maybe medical marijuana isn't such a good idea after all.

    August 24, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Epacific

    She turned him into an Ewok, lol!!

    August 24, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Grumpster

    This looks more like "The Scream" than it does Jeebus. Ha ha ha.....Mr. Bean did better than this.

    August 24, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Epacific

    I still can't stop laughing! She turned Jesus into a Hobbit!!

    August 24, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Tyokol

    The poor judgement of church officials at all levels never ceases to amaze me.

    August 24, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Darkguardian1314

    I'm sorry, but every time I see this picture in the thumbnail teasers that it reminds me how people can end up doing really dumb things.

    August 24, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
  11. jqent

    "Mr. Bean style...' Love it! Fortunately, this was not a priceless ancient artwork, merely a local landmark. Hopefully it can be repaired at a reasonable cost.

    August 24, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
  12. BobInIrvine

    Gabriel Allon would have done a much better job. 🙂

    August 24, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
  13. YBP

    Religion is a rancid leftover from ancient and pre-scientific times.

    August 24, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  14. old ben

    Why didn't they check out the qualifications of this HeavenSent person to be attempting such work?

    August 24, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  15. iceload9

    I never realized I have the talent to be an art restorer.

    August 24, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
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