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. rosie

    I mean really if there was a better reason to not take acid and try to work this is it. What was she working from? She had to have at least had some basic knowledge of what the thing was supposed to look like. I guess Antiques Road Show will NOT be sending her any restoration jobs!!

    August 24, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  2. John A.

    LoL no words to say... Just very funny.

    August 24, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • John W.

      Yes, a beautiful work of art destroyed. Hilarious. (By the way, John, only 13-year-old girls are allowed to still use "lol.")

      August 24, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • brad-ash

      LOL

      August 24, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • mdmann

      LOL and ROFL

      August 24, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pro2A

      LOL, LMAO! John W., there's this thing called a sense of humor. You should look into possibly getting one.

      August 29, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Hogan's Goat

    It has a faint resemblance to the work of Jacques Roualt or the late lamented Leo Dillon, except for the fact that she can't draw.

    August 24, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Ria

    Love the way she improvised, adding the scroll on the bottom. This is almost funny...

    August 24, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • martiniano

      And notice how she did away with that blood running down Christ's forehead? A definite improvement I'd say! And that mustache? GONE!

      August 24, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Karnage

      very primitive touch lol

      August 24, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Karnage

      Jesus now looks like an ape trying to eat its fuzzy crown of thorns ! good times -_-

      August 24, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Brett Brissler

    I hope the restorationist keeps her day job – and that job has nothing whatsever to do with art.

    August 24, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  6. martiniano

    I can't stop laughing looking at what she did with the very best of intentions. I am sure she is broken hearted about it. They should leave it just as it is and call it the Lord's Will. Surely Jesus guided her wrinkled little hand. God bless her.

    August 24, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  7. xnothinbutthetruth

    disgraceful.

    August 24, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Karnage

    Horrifying! This person should not have even come within 100 yards of this painting, it is RUINED !! This is soooooooooo disgraceful I really have no words except Jesus should have made a power outage happen so she could not longer see it, well obviously she cant see anything with the finish look of that painting!

    August 24, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  9. TomVIO

    I don't understand one thing... why did she have to re-paint the whole picture??? She should've just filled in the white deteriorated spots. There wasn't that much deteriorated on the original.

    August 24, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jokesterer

    She watched a Bob Ross episode and thought, "How hard can this be?" Jesus needs a friend.

    August 24, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jokesterer

      She really beat the devil out of it.

      August 24, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  11. annioekaley

    I think she knew exactly what she was doing. What a shame.

    August 24, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Ann Brush

    Love the fro!

    August 24, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Craig Eliot

    Actually, the new one is better .. it reflects the sensibility of the people.

    August 24, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  14. PatTheRat

    If this was such a "masterpiece" then why did they ever let it get in the shape it was in. I can't say that her version is any worse than the version as it existed when she started work, with 50% of it flaked off. I wonder how long it had been like this before someone realized it was messed up – that would tell you just how many people even bothered to look at the thing. I guarantee you people from far and wide will come to see it now! If anything, the town should thank her!

    August 24, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • mdmann

      You have GOT to be kidding. Surely.

      August 24, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  15. mike

    She should have just printed out a poster of the original and slapped it up there.

    August 24, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
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