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. Ray

    Re-brand it as a Picasso, no one will notice.

    August 23, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Cristiabella

    It's quite obvious they don't watch Pawn Stars... Rule #1: Don't clean, repair, or "restore" it!

    August 23, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Dash

    The Last Supper is due for its next attempt at restoration. I think we know just who to call... I think a transformation into 'Dogs Playing Poker' would be appropriate.

    August 23, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
  4. AndriconBoy

    Remarkable transformation. From fairy tale character to fat child with Downs Syndrome wearing a scarf. I like it.

    August 23, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eric

      I thought the new artist had a touch of the tard....then agin who hired someone that didn't work for an accredited art restoration house. Oh let's let Cecilia do it, she has the artistic ability of a 3 year old....

      August 23, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • ChooBoo

      Wow, that is a picture of you now?

      August 23, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      So, are you naturally a jerk, or did your mommy teach you to be that way?

      August 23, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Wow

    Kind of looks like some weird blow up doll.

    August 23, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
  6. bill

    On Reddit two days ago.. I wish I worked at CNN, seems like an easy gig.

    August 23, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
  7. MoonNow

    Come on guys, that's Jesus 2012, the new design. She ruined the painting but created an awesome tshirt design: http://goo.gl/nNNmP

    August 23, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Dash

    Looks like a morph between The Scream and a velvet Elvis to me.

    August 23, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Seriously

    The original intent was obviously destroyed, but this interpretation is just as valid as the original. Do we really know what he looked like? Was he real?

    August 23, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cristiabella

      Art "restoration" is not meant to be art "interpretation"

      August 23, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  10. brad-ash

    She obvously prefers abstract over realist paintings. LOL.

    August 23, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  11. boarddog

    OMG! That is freakin hilarious and so sad at the same time.
    "me ken pant! i fix!"
    LOL!

    August 23, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jesse Pinkman

    Gotta love the old "paint by numbers" sets....

    August 23, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  13. raven

    Jesus wore a babushka?

    August 23, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  14. ccmoore

    This is so funny I just cant stop laughing at the restoration.....but all joke aside I think that if she know she did not have the skill she could have said something....such a shame!!

    August 23, 2012 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
  15. MARCOS

    Reminds me of the restoration work that Mr. Bean did on Whistler's Mother painting in his movie, I really liked the reaction of the curator in the movie, speechless. It looks like Mr. Bill

    August 23, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
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