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. AS

    I just cant stop laughing everytime I see it. Its hilarious. The poor lady hasnot comitted any crime. She was honest in her efforts. I am sure God has forgiven her and so should we.

    August 25, 2012 at 12:09 am | Report abuse |
    • jeremiah clark

      LMAO why would they even bother restoring it there is probally more meaning in a old painting then a new one

      August 25, 2012 at 2:09 am | Report abuse |
  2. Redeye Dog

    Maybe if they had checked Angie's List?

    August 25, 2012 at 12:14 am | Report abuse |
  3. Curt Lehman

    Parishioners will discover later that the "rework" was done in water colors. No harm, no foul. Move along, move along, nothing more to see here.

    August 25, 2012 at 12:15 am | Report abuse |
  4. Kothel

    That moment in Bean where you see Whistler's Mother redone for the first time is one of the funniest things I've ever seen. I still laugh just thinking about it.

    August 25, 2012 at 12:34 am | Report abuse |
  5. puckles

    Can't stop laughing.

    August 25, 2012 at 1:10 am | Report abuse |
  6. Ctaylor

    Nice interpatation of a Jesus monkey boy. I am interested in pursching said art work. Please contact me with expected offer price.

    August 25, 2012 at 1:14 am | Report abuse |
  7. Higgysdead

    Looks like a Neanderthal with down syndrome. LOL!

    August 25, 2012 at 1:17 am | Report abuse |
  8. Joel Barquez

    This news made my day. Hilarious!

    August 25, 2012 at 1:31 am | Report abuse |
  9. TODAY

    LOL...I would do better job

    August 25, 2012 at 1:40 am | Report abuse |
  10. TODAY

    It looks like shaven Jesus with toothache ...LOL

    August 25, 2012 at 1:41 am | Report abuse |
  11. RiverBoatQueen

    That old lady really needs to get her a new pair of glasses!!! How could she have gone SO FAR and ruined the heck outta that painting of Christ? What was she trying to do? She really messed it up royally and I cannot imagine what was going on in her mind during her botch of the artwork she was supposedly trying to restore.
    Good Golly Wally!!!
    Mr Bean and Winslow's Mother came to my mind when I first saw the mess this old woman created!!!
    We shouldn't laugh though...she ruined a priceless piece of antiquity!!!! Shame on her and she should hang her head.
    But leave her alone. She's old.

    August 25, 2012 at 1:52 am | Report abuse |
  12. CaraW

    I cannot remember the last time I laughed this hard! I know that I should be ashamed of myself, but THIS is funny.

    August 25, 2012 at 2:01 am | Report abuse |
  13. Meh


    August 25, 2012 at 2:10 am | Report abuse |
  14. jay

    I see...It resembled Samba from the Lion King? If Rafiki sees this he would say, "its alive, its alive!"

    Sorry, I can't stop laughing.

    August 25, 2012 at 2:29 am | Report abuse |
  15. David

    My 4 years old daughter would have done a better job.

    August 25, 2012 at 2:39 am | Report abuse |
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