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. Marvs257

    My question is, why did she even touch the eyes? There's nothing wrong with them, and now they're even looking the wrong way. What a disaster

    August 23, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
  2. @J.C.

    There were over 250,000 christians living in Iraq before The Christians invaded in March, 2003.

    August 23, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wow

      The christians invaded, no atheists, agnostics, muslims, jews, just christians. Quaint notion. bs.

      August 23, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  3. needNewGov

    That is the funniest restoration!!!!!!!

    August 23, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  4. rocinante

    The difference is that Mr Bean defaced Whistler's Mother. This is just some no-name 20th century artist who painted the 30 millionth version of a portrait of Jesus for a church. Who cares? Walk down the block and you can find another church with another fresco by another artist of equal recognition and quality.

    August 23, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • reality check

      yup, the original was 20th century Target special, just like Velvet Elvis. she has actually improved it

      August 24, 2012 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  5. saywhat


    The world is flooded with paintings,posters, statues and thousand other depictions of Jesus in every shape ,color and form. They are not held sacred to the extent that other faiths like Hinduism or Budhdhism hold depictions of their holies.
    Those with Christian names too abound but only a percentage take their religion seriously, millions you would come across who do not believe in either God or Jesus Christ or any deity.
    In Islam depiction of God and Prophets in this manner is prohibited.

    August 23, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  6. saywhat

    good morning @Philip

    August 23, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Oleg

    It look very much like our Balkan president, King Renaldo, the Magnificent. He rule over our country with firm, but fair hand. He first president to give mule and horse right to vote.

    August 23, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Dan

    I'm not sure if this would be classified as a blatant intent on destroying the picture. Couldn't you say that if someone wanted to destroy the painting that they could come in at night and vandalize it?

    I think we're only hearing one side of the argument here. Something obviously happened as it appears the bottom half looks good with the rolled scroll effect, but then the body itself seemed like it smeared with some chemical similar to that of the pun with Mr Bean.

    August 23, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • brad-ash

      LOL...Nothing about any part of this restoration looks good. Sorry but I just have to laugh at the whole thing. Crazy lady.

      August 23, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Philip

    8 nazi doctors of science were prosecuted as war criminals for crimes against humanity. These 8 men were only a few of the hundreds of men who worked at Bayer AGs labs expirimenting on everything from jewish children to african chimpanzees.
    8 years in prison was the stiffest penalty meted out. 4 years was the longest any of these 8 men served.
    In 2009, the way by which other Bayer AG doctors escaped warcrime tribunals and came to be employed by Bayer USA was made public. Operation Paperclip is declassified.

    August 23, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Oleg

      In my country we ship war crinimals to Somalia to feed hungry cannibals.

      August 23, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wow

      Wow, the lady should have consulted with those Nazi scientists, mabye she could have done a better job.

      August 23, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Leslie

    Great analogy for US economy. The original is what it should be, the middle is how Bush left it, and the restoration is Obama's work in progress.

    August 23, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  11. carlin123

    So real I feel like I could reach out and touch him.

    August 23, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
  12. David Lind

    I can't stop laughing. Maybe the Vatican could commision her to do a few restorations.

    August 23, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  13. wassupUSA

    Good thing she didn't do that to a Muslim painting, or she would have been killed.

    August 23, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • StupidityShouldBePainful

      She'd have to work very hard to find a "Muslim painting," assuming you mean a painting of an Islamic religious figure and not just a painting that was painted by a Muslim. Since Islam, like all Abrahamic faiths, forbids the worship of graven images (remember the Ten Commandments?), mosques are decorated with geometric patterns and calligraphy, not idols or paintings of holy people.

      August 23, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • saywhat

      Paintings by Muslim artists are commonplace be they portraits, landscapes or others. Depicting religious figures is prohibited to prevent idolatry which is forbidden in Judaism,Christianity and Islam.

      August 23, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Tofer

    Kinda resembles a melted ewok.

    August 23, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Andrew

    LOL.... man, this is funny.

    I suspect it's not real, though.

    August 23, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
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