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. tim

    this is what happens when parents aren't honest with their Children and tell then that they suck. Not evey child is a creative genius so why in the hell would you encourage them as such?

    August 24, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sunny D

      LOL! I could't agree more.

      August 24, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  2. sbp

    Whaddya gonna do? God's will....

    August 24, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  3. YBP

    Yes, really. Name just one source of historical proof that Jesus existed. (Besides your special feelings or intuition.) There are none.

    August 24, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • What???

      YBP, you don't get it. I hope one day you do and when you do you will be amazed at what you will have learned. I did!

      August 24, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • norman

      theres actually a lot of historical evidence Jesus existed-none that he was divine though

      August 24, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • mdmann

      Your comment has no relevance to this story! I'm not disagreeing with what you are saying, but who cares in regards to this story? Why does it matter? The point is that a piece of artwork was just mangled by someone's stupidity. Why does it matter if Jesus was or was not an actual historical figure?

      Are you claiming that if someone went into the Louvre and decided to permanently attach octopus arms to the "Venus de Milo," it would be OK since Aphrodite never existed?

      Please get your head out of your rear end!

      August 24, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Wow

    This is Great Metaphor of What Obama was done to America...............All three phases

    August 24, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • norman

      stopped two wars, fixed the ecomony, provided health care to 30 million who never had it, got our number one enemy-what does that have to do with a bad restoration?

      August 24, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • tm1960

      Wow, you really have to bring your myopic political nonsense into this?

      August 24, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • db

      thanks for your stupid post, dummy.

      August 24, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jo

      Always an idiot who throws in the president where he doesn't belong. You must be a ball to have a conversation with.

      August 24, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • halstevens

      Stopped two wars? Really? I guess the reports of service men and women being killed in Afghanistan are due to traffic accidents. Fixed the economy? Unemployment is 8.3%...all better...what should I work on next?

      August 24, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Rob

    That happened to me with a classic collector's watch I once bought. I managed, but I was pretty down and blue about it for a long time.

    August 24, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  6. woodie

    This is criminal. I hope they charge her with the crime.

    August 24, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  7. What???

    How appropriate that this should happen to a picture that is supposed to represent Jesus when taken in the light of scriptures! Exodus 20:4 You shall not make unto yourself any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:

    August 24, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
  8. omglol

    i'm totally going to get fired for laughing so hard at these comments and the picture...LOVE the super fuzzy hair and ewok comments

    August 24, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  9. wpqr

    I would keep her away from the Mona Lisa.

    August 24, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  10. tm1960

    Obviously she thought it would look better as a Picasso...

    August 24, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Linda N

    Was it finger-painting done with a blindfold on?

    August 24, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Linda Narcross

    Was it finger-painting-done with a blindfold on?

    August 24, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
  13. db

    I like it... it looks like sasquatch. This is appropriate because jesus and sasquatch have so much in common. They are two creatures that don't exist but most everyone believes in them.

    August 24, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  14. jholland27

    I kinda like it – has a sweet, comical face – the way religion should be portrayed 🙂

    August 24, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • BC

      May you take a hot seat were you belong.

      August 24, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
  15. GG

    This is an absolute disgrace

    August 24, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
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