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 Euronews.com. “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.

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. Relax People

    You know what? This woman acted out of love and devotion to her church and her faith. I guarantee that if Jesus himself could see it, He'd kindly pat her on the back and tell her "Good job." Because He wasn't a JERK, like most of his followers.

    August 28, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Christian Faith

      Amen to that!

      August 28, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Stone

      My sentiments exactly...!!!

      August 28, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Christina

      Really? A pat on the back? You probably think everyone who participates in a sporting event should get a trophy.
      She RUINED a piece of priceless art. I would hope that if Jesus did come down, he'd give her an ounce or two of sense.

      August 28, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Almost ready to go Amish...

      Not one for tossing out blanket condemnations, eh?

      August 28, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Damian

      I agree ....people need to back off and get a grip. It is just a painting! This was not a pricless work by Da Vinci or Van Gogh. I'm sure she meant well unfortunately this painting of Jesus is now a muppet character.

      August 28, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • ENIGMA

      Well. exactly ! He's probably ROTFLHAO because he's funny like that. But the radicals here think that there's some kind of value to the painting that permit them to condem and abuse an old woman. Guess they're not going to be satisfied until she dies (of a broken heart) for all their sins. Just like Jesus himself.

      August 28, 2012 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Relax People

      @ Christina, that's not even an accurate comparison. All you prove is how much the average person, Christian or not, misses the point of the teachings of Christ. Thanks for making that more obvious....maybe He could give YOU an ounce or two of sense and explain that faith and love and caring for your fellow man is way more important than some painting on a column.

      August 28, 2012 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Woodrow

    The restored painting probably looks much more like Jesus did anyway. Someday we will all see exactly what He looks like and this painting will be the last thing on any ones mind.

    August 28, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Alaskan

    The original painting was no masterpiece. It was a kitschy and tacky pic of Jesus rolling his eyes. I think the new version is an improvement. At least now it's funny.

    August 28, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Cynic

    A fuzzy cartoon Christ.

    I like it!

    August 28, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gura

      Thank you, lady!!! You have NO IDEA about how much I have laughed with this story! And for free!!!

      August 28, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  5. TT

    Oh wow! she screwed that up.

    August 28, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gave up on a candidate

      He is wearing a fuzzy hat and has an onion ring for a mouth, multimedia.

      August 28, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Priya

    I'm a Christian and I love Jesus Christ. That said, as an artist, I'm sad this happened. As a Christian, I know God not only has a sense of humor, but is much more concerned with human souls that with what amounts to a finger painting done by a human being. The artist in me is saddened, because this does appear to be ruined. Otherwise, it's really not a big deal.

    August 28, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Starving Artist

    The should have just said they found a previously unknown Salvador Dali fresco. Could have gotten millions for it.

    August 28, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jean R

    My first reaction was to say "Jesus Christ!" so I think she got it right! 🙂

    August 28, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jeff

    Nailed it!

    August 28, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Almost ready to go Amish...

    I prefer Mr. Bean's revisions of paintings, personally...

    August 28, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  11. WOWreally?

    Poor Jesus looks like a capuchin monkey....

    August 28, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  12. burkes

    LMAO ...too funny. Lighten up people

    August 28, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  13. burkes

    Yes he does look like a Capuchin

    August 28, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Gura

    Cecilia deserves a trip to Disney, with all expenses paid for. She has put that town and its people on the MAP!!!
    Congratulations, and thank you for a good laugh.

    August 28, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  15. tb321

    There are a lot of hilarious spoofs of further "improvements" that could have been made on the painting... see here for some fun pics of other possible faces on the painting: http://trishbailey.blogspot.mx/2012/08/fifteen-minutes.html

    August 28, 2012 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
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