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. ccbaxter47

    This event is literally the definition of the word tragicomical.

    August 24, 2012 at 10:11 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Smako

    Didn't anyone want to see an example of her work before she did a restoration? I guess you get what you pay for. Matt Stone and Trey Parker did a better depiction of Jesus than this person. They wanted a savior, they got a Muppet.

    August 24, 2012 at 10:11 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Peter

    Ironically it looks as if Jesus gone back in evolution.

    August 24, 2012 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse |
  4. MedullaPancreas

    Alien Christ?

    August 24, 2012 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
  5. HZ

    she made a average picture into picasso level art, nice job 😀

    August 24, 2012 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Tim

    The head looks like a Snow Owl.

    August 24, 2012 at 10:50 pm | Report abuse |
  7. us_1776

    Well, she did say she would do it for free.


    August 24, 2012 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hope



      August 24, 2012 at 10:58 pm | Report abuse |
  8. us_1776

    It'll be at Christie's next week going for a million dollars.


    August 24, 2012 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hope

      Thank God, there's always tomorrow....
      God willing.

      Nite all...

      August 24, 2012 at 11:03 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Laurette

    Oh my Lord! I have not laughed this much in a long time! Jesus works in mysterious ways and has brought joy to the world once again!

    August 24, 2012 at 11:03 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Hope


    Hate to argue, but love to laugh. Even God
    has a sense of humor.



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

    Nailed it

    August 24, 2012 at 11:27 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Art Is In You

    Christ lives in your heart, not on your wall. While it was a fine picture, and perhaps a great loss to the art history field, it was, really, JUST A PICTURE. Any spiritual energy attached to it belongs to the viewer and to God, not the painting. Let's let it go, and give the poor woman some compassion. Art is about sincerity, authenticity and expressing with a child-like innocence, and she seems to have done all this. Christ would forgive her, so should we.

    August 24, 2012 at 11:35 pm | Report abuse |
  13. janey33

    Oh, my. It certainly doesn't look anything like the original. But no one knows what Jesus really looked like, so give the poor lady credit for trying. At least it gave me a good laugh.

    August 24, 2012 at 11:51 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jeff

    Looks ok to me....

    August 25, 2012 at 12:00 am | Report abuse |
  15. Jose

    It is the work of al-Qaeda. I think Bin laden still alive.

    August 25, 2012 at 12:01 am | Report abuse |
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