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. Bob Lablah

    Lol how in the world could she of possibly messed up so bad? all she had to do rly is touch up the spots that where white. she completely changed the whole thing. He now has black eyes like a demon for some reason idk why she would change the eyes anyway. also the nose is just bizarre now it's almost alien like. and once again the nose barely needed to be touched. I'm not even going to comment on his mouth. there was no need to do much if any work on the face yet she completely turned jesus into an alien demon with black eyes. Sounds like she meant well sure but if you know you dont have the experience to do it why risk it? just fill in the chipped spots and thats all right? almost seems intentional to me. How else can you explain it?

    August 28, 2012 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
  2. CaraW

    Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. (Matthew 5:8)

    August 28, 2012 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Let's quote bible verses

      “Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.” – Psalm 137:9

      August 29, 2012 at 7:19 am | Report abuse |
  3. omg

    wow, this is the funniest thing I've seen in awile, friggen hilarious.

    August 28, 2012 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Behold The Monkey

    If this gives you the lolz, check out

    August 28, 2012 at 9:50 pm | Report abuse |
  5. BettyBo

    this is the most embarrassing thing i've seen in ages. when you mess up, swallow pride and give up the project.

    August 28, 2012 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
  6. amboyd

    Oh, I just feel sorry for the old lady that tried to do this right. Who cares? Christ wouldn't care. If there is a Christ.

    August 28, 2012 at 11:53 pm | Report abuse |
  7. lj

    thats a very horrible restoration looks like a sad man in a parka

    August 29, 2012 at 12:00 am | Report abuse |
  8. Daph1

    They should have "Photoshopped" the previous image, cleaned up the missing parts, fixed the constrast and then enlarged it according to scale – then use this as a guide to paint the final picture.

    August 29, 2012 at 12:20 am | Report abuse |
  9. Claire

    With this painting, the city may become the turist town for the stupid! How ridiculous! Shame on that lady!

    August 29, 2012 at 7:18 am | Report abuse |
  10. Rick Alle

    Well, She did everyone a favor. Jesus never looked like that painting anyway... And He most likely had black eyes, He was from Betlehem.

    August 29, 2012 at 8:09 am | Report abuse |
  11. lweba

    To me it looks a better restoration than if it was done by Picasso!

    August 29, 2012 at 8:37 am | Report abuse |
  12. Kaden

    Why would a priest ask a woman that can't paint to restore that work of art? I read she took it upon herself to do it.She has destroyed a work of art she should be jailed for that.Let's see I hear some of the Sistine Chapel frescoes are failing do you think they will invite her to help?

    August 29, 2012 at 8:38 am | Report abuse |
  13. Ruben

    It is not a 'masterpiece', but a forgotten painting in a forgotten church. It is not Leonardo's 'Mona Lisa' or something like that. I'm not saying the 'restoration' was well done. Evidently not, but the original painting, done in about two hours was in a poor state and nobody cared about it. It is a funny story and I assure you here in Spain we've been laughing at it the whole week, but don't make a drama of it.

    August 29, 2012 at 8:49 am | Report abuse |
  14. Rana

    Who knows, perhaps the actual Jesus looked like this restored paint. There must be some devine intention behind it.

    August 29, 2012 at 9:08 am | Report abuse |
  15. Little Man

    Wow that is horrible. They screwed that painting up.

    August 29, 2012 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
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