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. J.C.

    Jesus appears in a Chia Pet, film at 11.

    August 24, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  2. UCG

    Believe it or not, the restored version is a more realistic version of Jesus than the original one, which depicts a Northern European type that Jesus couldn't possibly have been. Good job, old lady!

    August 24, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Dave

    Who is this so called restoration person? I am curious.

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

      Someone else posted a comment that this should be considered an attraction to allure all to the church to view it.
      I wholeheartedly agree and I'm certain Jesus would agree also.
      However I would not allow this person to restore even a comic book ever again and she should be banned from owning everything from crayons to majic markers for life.

      August 24, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ozy

      "I'm certain Jesus would agree also." [Citation needed]

      August 24, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  4. ethicalonezax

    Nice painting BUT
    Jesus was Just a normal man that existed over 2k ago.
    There were many people before Jesus who claimed to be a son of a man made idea (god).
    We still have these type of people recently such as Shoko Asahara, Jim Jones, Marshall Applewhite and David Koresh who were all Jesus-like, Claimed to be the son of god and believed in the apocalypse etc.

    Jesus had no special powers.
    He did NOT resurrected from the dead.

    He was just a cult leader.

    August 24, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • hatedetector

      umad bro?
      I pray that people like you will come to know what true love is before the day he comes back.

      August 24, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Frank

      "before the day he comes back"...


      August 24, 2012 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • ethicalonezax


      Jesus wont return. Stop deluding yourself with a man you never met,
      Maybe Hinduism is true because it existed for almost 4,600 years.

      I was NEVER Christian so now you're proving Jesus was a dictator and forcing people to accept him as your lord and you become a sheep or you suffer eternal in hell.
      What kind of a sadist EVIL man would do such a horrible thing?
      Maybe is why they crucified him.

      August 24, 2012 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Sal

    Great visual. Actually a perfect representation of what Christian fundamentalists have done to the teachings of Christ.

    August 24, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Steve

    If Picasso painted the one on the right, it would be worth millions.

    August 24, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
  7. MrApplesauce

    Maybe Jesus inspired her to paint it that way.

    August 24, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
  8. puckles

    This is so funny it made me cry!!! LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 24, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
  9. cpc65

    Methinks Ms. Giménez was getting into the sacramental wine.

    August 24, 2012 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
  10. cpc65

    Just replace the fresco with one of the many tortillas that bear Jesus' likeness.

    August 24, 2012 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
  11. crymany

    Another fine example of a volunteer who practices "historic preservation".

    August 24, 2012 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
  12. James

    It looks like a Teletubbie.

    August 24, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Athiest

    What she did to the painting has been done to the bible over time. You can see its outline but the specifics are all wrong.

    That's what you get for worshiping fairy tales.

    August 24, 2012 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Olive

    Jesus is Alice The Goon from Popeye?!

    August 24, 2012 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Progressive Veteran

    Picaso would be proud!

    August 24, 2012 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
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