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. Pedrin

    Jesus is the King of Kings and His blood is the only power to saved a person from things that is already happening. Jesus es el Rey de Reyes y su Sangre es la unica que tiene el poder de Salvar de lo que ya esta pasando.

    August 29, 2012 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
    • HolyCowDude!

      So you are saying the church should have hired Jesus to restore the fresco? Seriously?

      "Giménez said her work was done in the open and nobody tried to stop her"

      That is irrelevant and in no way excuses the defacing of the fresco. If Cecilia Giménez was not up to the task, she should have said so beforehand. A tagger with a spray can could have done better.

      Since the original fresco is ruined, why not remove it and replace it with another? Or just whitewash it and paint a simple cross in its place.

      August 29, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Stephanie

      Thffft. (Big Raspberry). Jesus could care less. He didn't care about stuff like that and would be disappointed that so many people make a fuss about this when they should be caring for their brothers and sisters worldwide who are living. Take your concerns for others and support local food pantries, local homeless shelters, and worthwhile environmental issues.

      August 30, 2012 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
  2. WhooWhooHaaaHaaa

    Hahahahaahahahahahaaaa
    Jaajajajajajajajaaaaaaaaaaa

    It is kinda funny though.

    August 29, 2012 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
  3. CommonSensed

    Maybe she was overcome to paint Jesus as an eskimo, perhaps seeing the image in her toasted cheese sandwich at lunch.

    August 29, 2012 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
  4. Nicole

    Cecilia Giménez... how ignorant of you. No one should of had to have tried to stop you. We have a thing called judgement, well, apparently you don't. This is wrong any way you look at it.

    August 29, 2012 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Slave2None

      Remember that in Mexico basic public education ends after 6th grade. So the critical thinking skills are lacking, kind of like our own kids nowadays!

      August 30, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  5. unbelieveble

    LOL. did they ask her if she was a professional in the field berfore letting her put her hands on it? or do they let just anyone put there hands on historic masterpiece.

    August 29, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Gabriel Allon

    They should have asked me to do it.

    August 29, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  7. frankmf

    A once beautiful painting destroyed by a woman who wanted to be in the news.
    3 Words: estimate & sue. The 3rd one would be too personal. Figure.

    August 29, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pro2A

      Read it again. She said she did it because the priest told her to. There's nothing in the article that sounds remotely like she was looking for recognition.
      This is an example of where blind faith will get you.

      August 29, 2012 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Almost ready to go Amish...

    The Bean clip would have been funnier without the cursing curator guy.

    August 29, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  9. MH

    I am absolutely in tears. One of the funniest things that I've seen in years. I am a born-again Christian, and I am telling you Jesus wanted me to feel happy today. I am laughing my head off. Thanks lady, you put a smile on my face!

    August 29, 2012 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Laura

    The sentence.... "Parishioner Cecilia Giménez said she was asked by the church to fix things up. its INCORRECT. I have watched all videos of Cecilia Gimenez in spanish and she clearly says she was never ask by the priest or the church to fix things up. She stays that the priest and church goers knew about it because she has "retouched" the tunic of the painting before. When ask if she was ask by the priest she says "I was not ask, but the priest knew it they all knew it".

    You can check videos at RTVE.ES national Spanish TV station, It is insulting to believe that "the church" ask her to do such restoration.

    Get the facts right before posting it please.

    August 29, 2012 at 11:50 pm | Report abuse |
  11. vistarian2011

    Look, maybe she was inspired to paint the correct image of Jesus. oops, sorry I said that.

    August 30, 2012 at 9:26 am | Report abuse |
  12. PhantomPoster

    Come on, guys, give her some credit - she did a REALLY nice job on the bottom of the scroll. And, though Jesus now looks like one of those potatohead kids from Pink Floyd's "The Wall," perhaps you just don't appreciate her perspective.

    August 30, 2012 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  13. Esquimaux

    Looks just as much like Jesus as the original. I like it.

    August 30, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  14. DS

    Honeybadger don't care~

    August 30, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • mohansen

      True that!

      August 31, 2012 at 9:24 pm | Report abuse |
  15. 2MassEffect

    Just paint over it, and put up a framed portrait of the man. You already trashed it once.

    August 30, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
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