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. juanito

    wut the heck that reminded of me when i tried to remodel my kitchen and my wife almost killed me hahahaha

    August 30, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Ry

    Am I the only one here who can't help but think this might be a metaphor for how the Evangelists have co-opted Jesus' good name for their decidedly un-Christian actions?

    August 30, 2012 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |

    It look's like "Creationism" that after restoration has become "Darwinism".

    August 30, 2012 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Randy Roberson

    I've never laughed at anything so sad. There are a number of people involved that leave me wondering, "What the heck were they thinking.....or drinking? (grin)

    August 31, 2012 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
  5. Daddy

    Every morning I look this story up so I can laugh seeing the painting.

    August 31, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Steve

    Mr Bean is more real than the made up Jesus.

    August 31, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  7. May

    Hey, how do you know that Jesus didn't look like this....maybe she had divine inspiration and really captured Jesus' true likeness. Prove me wrong

    August 31, 2012 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Beanie

    Looks like Jesus to me

    August 31, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  9. joebob

    Did she use finger paint or crayons to restore the painting ......... Man – what a tragedy.

    August 31, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  10. disappointed

    Its a funny picture but a tragady that the masterpiece is probably lost. It all depends on what she painted it with.
    I cant believe she did it. Maybe she was afraid people would worship the painting instead of Jesus. (lame excuse) But it doesnt make any sense for her to deface a masterpice and get away with it. Like she didnt know what she was doing. You always have a choice. She could have said NO when she was asked or told to do the job.

    August 31, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  11. It's a Miricale!

    Through divine guidance Cecilia Giménez has finally shown the world what Jesus really looked like.

    August 31, 2012 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Manuel Gutierrez

    Totally Disaster......

    August 31, 2012 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Mei

    This is such a shame! The original painting is absolutely beautiful and the "restoration" is quite dishonorable to look at!

    August 31, 2012 at 7:14 pm | Report abuse |
  14. George Coll

    Reading some of these posts, I come to the realization as to the amount of hate there is for Jesus. Most of these self proclaimed ¨"overs of the world" and "bleeding hearts for the needs of others" are just HYPOCRITES. One cannot hate Jesus and proclaim themselves as lovers of mankind. LIARS.

    August 31, 2012 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
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    Tremendous things here. I'm very glad to see your article. Thank you so much and I'm looking ahead to touch you. Will you kindly drop me a mail?

    September 1, 2012 at 1:04 am | Report abuse |
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