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. draven

    The painting should have just been left alone. I mean you knew who you were looking at. And if the poeple who asked the woman to "fix-up the painting", however they meant it; if they didn't like that it was fading then they should of done what i do every year with calenders. Get a new one.

    August 24, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Bonnie

    Just horrible! I am currently doing restoration work in an old church. I can't believe nobody stopped her before she did so much damage. It will take a lot of work to repair that, but it can be done.

    August 24, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bonnie

      For a trip to spain, I'll fix it! And it would look like it should.

      August 24, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tian ti

      Please do not fix it -if you do, it would no longer be funny and no one will talk about it just like the original was. It is now truly priceless because of such a hilarious story.

      August 25, 2012 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
  3. lupigon

    It seems like Jesus got botox injections on his lips. What a shame for this so called artist.

    August 24, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lanfear

      botched botox job, got all up in his neck and face and everywhere...

      August 24, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • jp

      He looks like a Monchichi ("...so soft and cuddly"...).

      August 24, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Sinfully Yours

    If paintings could talk:
    Left painting (in a soft voice) – "Now my children..."
    Middle painting (in a pained voice) – "Help me..."
    Right painting – "TIMMA!!!"

    August 24, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • mdmann

      Oh my god, I think I wet myself laughing!!!

      August 24, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Judas Priest

      You just won the internet.

      August 24, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Doug

    I can't stop laughing about this.

    August 24, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lanfear

      same here. everytime I look I see something different. Looks like an eskimo this time.

      August 24, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rosie

      I know!!! Every time I see it I start giggling!!!

      August 24, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • WhaaT

      Look how happy it made you guys :0)

      August 24, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  6. SS

    There's nothing funny about a great work of art being destroyed and yet I am still laughing so hard right now at how ridiculously horrible it turned out, how it's completely destroyed, mrbean, idea of it being a stupid old lady, etc. But now they got a hilarious story to go along with it now. Rather laugh about stuff that just getting pssedd off.

    August 24, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Eicarr

    Funny!!! I'd go out of my way to see it now. I hope they put it up. I think it will actually get them more foot traffic than the original.

    August 24, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mike

    I just can't stop laughing. I know it's sad for the church, sad for the family of the original artists, and sad for the Parishioner that tried to help but MAN is that hilarious....

    August 24, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael Jackson

      It's like a Rohrschach test with eyes. Can we say "gollywog" on these boards?

      August 24, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  9. mr pudpuller

    Funny stuff.......but Mr. Bean had it right!!

    August 24, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  10. gk

    The new jesus has Michael Jacksons nose.

    August 24, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael Jackson

      They were supposed to bury that with me, but they couldn't find it.

      August 24, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Kolobians4romney

    The painting on the right looks like a grown up version of curious George

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

    "SHOULD BE JAILED" She's older than medieval art and got this idea on her own. She just assumed it wold be easy . . .

    August 24, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Leo66

      Jailed? For what charge? The dumb priest asked her to restore it. Its the churches fault.
      Wonder if the people who donated got a refund..

      August 24, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Laura

      The sentence.... "Parishioner Cecilia Giménez said she was asked by the church to fix things up. its INCORRECT. I have watched all videos of Cecilia Gimenez in spanish and she clearly says she was never ask by the priest or the church to fix things up. She stays that the priest and church goers knew about it because she has "retouched" the tunic of the painting before. When ask if she was ask by the priest she says "I was not ask, but the priest knew it they all knew it".

      You can check videos at RTVE.ES national Spanish TV station, It is insulting to believe that "the church" ask her to do such restoration.

      Get the facts right before posting it please.

      August 29, 2012 at 11:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jack Pear.

      It cleary said she did it without being asked or told by anyone.

      September 3, 2012 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • puckles

      Are you INSANE?

      August 25, 2012 at 1:11 am | Report abuse |
    • JR

      They should have given her brown paint so she could paint a true depiction of Jesus, not some white fairy tale. Signed, some white guy who is laughing at you all.

      August 28, 2012 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
    • TD

      What's the matter? Are you a racist? Why does color even matter?

      August 28, 2012 at 8:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Geny

      good one !

      August 30, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kaden

      She should be jailed, I agree, pure of heart or not. What I can't figure out is why she thought she would be able to restore it when she can't paint?I would have like to have been in the church for the reveal.

      August 29, 2012 at 8:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Ic3

      Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaahahahahahahahaha

      That old lady made my day a true masterpiece! it looks more like the REAL Jesus Christ, which was a middleeastern jew, not a blond with light blue eyes! lol I am laughing out loud for a week! The ones that one to jail an old lady for trying to help are the ones that are wrong! Insane stupid religious fans! That's why I'm atheist yes THERE is no GOD! That's in your troubled imagination because you were introduced into fear since you were born ... lol

      Hipocrisy, has been the flag of all religions that were created to split man kind ... and to serve their authorities ...
      This is a great example! lol she was really funny!

      August 29, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • WASP

      @kaden: maybe she had fiath that god would guide her hand? lmfao guess he was too busy trying to help t-bow throw interceptions. ROFLMFAO

      August 29, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pro2A

      Jailed on what charge? Not knowing what she was doing?

      August 29, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cyke

      James 4:12
      English Standard Version (ESV)
      12 There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?

      August 29, 2012 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Cindy

    Parishioner Cecilia Giménez said she was asked by the church to fix things up.

    Oh well!!!

    August 24, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  14. magnus

    awesome. she will be folk hero forever.

    August 24, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  15. WhaaT

    Maybe they should have looked at some of her other works of art before comissioning her to do this restoration. Looks like a sesame street version of Jesus. Bless her heart!

    August 24, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
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