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. Ronny_Pudding

    That's a Fresco Fiasco.

    August 24, 2012 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
  2. us_1776

    Yikes !!!


    August 24, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Hope


    Two dimensional thinking reflected in art.
    Total waste of time and energy. Sue the

    August 24, 2012 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Hope

    Defacing the Christ?

    Two dimensional sight applied to art.
    Waste of time and energy... and yet his
    Father knows the number of hairs on
    our heads.


    August 24, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
  5. I wonder

    I wonder if it was a devious (but brilliant) plan. Padre says, "Paint it mui malo, YaYa" (using washable paints)... then some experienced copy-artist comes forward, and feeling sorry for them, repaints it for free (and for publicity)!

    August 24, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hope


      Priest works overtime... translated into BIG bonus!

      Love it!

      August 24, 2012 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse |
  6. 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 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gabby

      The Old Testament has little validity when it comes to depictions of Jesus. The Renaissance revolved around images of saints and the Holy Family, and are some of the greatest works of art. I really don't think Jesus would mind people painting him, so why should you be offended?

      August 24, 2012 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • What???

      IN LIGHT OF SCRIPTURES!!!??? It is appropriate that this should happen to a picture of what is supposed to be Jesus??? Where did I write that I was offended??? Scripture overrides anything I think or feel!

      August 24, 2012 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Picasso

    What was the church thinking? ..."Ahh, we need to restore this painting...I know! Old Mrs. Peerpot said she can do it. She SAID she paints a lot and we could save THOUSANDS in cost."

    August 24, 2012 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hope

      MRS. PEERPOT...



      August 24, 2012 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
  8. joyce andrews

    God loves the poor old lady and Jesus forgives her, for she knew not what she did, and the priest
    knew not what she would do. "Fixing things up a bit" was misinterpreted by her in good faith. The artist is gone, the image was once a beautiful piece to behold but is now in the past, but Jesus lives on forever. Just forgive and move on.

    August 24, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
  9. CynicLgrrl

    They finally got a picture of bigfoot!

    August 24, 2012 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Kelly

    Who was the brainiac who decided that a painting more than a century old could be "restored" by an elderly woman whose only experience probably doesn't exceed painting her flower pots? What's wrong? Didn't anyone have a 5 year old with water color or finger paint experience?

    August 24, 2012 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
  11. t3chn0ph0b3

    I'm still laughing. I read about this hours ago and I'm still laughing.

    August 24, 2012 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Muzzleblast

      Me too!

      August 24, 2012 at 10:52 pm | Report abuse |
  12. w5cdt

    Wow! Totally incompetent. Dude!

    August 24, 2012 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Evangelical Christian

    She deserves jail !

    August 24, 2012 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Glow

    The woman said she was asked to paint it by the church. I doubt she decided to purposely deface the mural. She probably did the best she could and really I don't think it's that big of a deal. It's not like anyone hasn't seen this same type of picture of Jesus at a flea market or garage sale at some time or another.

    August 24, 2012 at 7:25 pm | Report abuse |
  15. AFLP

    Close enough.

    August 24, 2012 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cmon_Seriously

      This was clearly inspired by a divine revelation.

      August 24, 2012 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
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