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. Tomek

    Next time, use a smaller brush.

    August 23, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  2. internetisgay

    A for Effort

    August 23, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Bubbish

    Hilarious! I laughed so hard yesterday when I first saw it. It seriously reminds me of "Alice the Goon" from the old Popeye cartoons. Anyone remember her?

    August 23, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • BOMBO ©

      Yes, but the nose is too small and the flower pot/ hat is missing.

      August 23, 2012 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  4. jimmymax

    She did a nice afro on the dude, but forgot the thorns. If he did exist at all, no one has any idea what he looked like. Recent theories say he would have been short, black, with short black hair – not the tall, white, blue-eyed, wavy-brown haired, big-nosed, Caucasian Jesus every grandma has hanging on her wall. But he probably didn't look like an Eskimo.

    August 23, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • seyedibar

      Not that I believe he existed, but Josephus left a decent description of Jesus in Greek. He claimed Jesus was humpbacked, under 5 ft tall, with unattractive features.

      August 23, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Flanker

      He may have been short with black hair, but how many black jews do you know?

      August 23, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Genius

      seyedibar – "Jesus was humpbacked, under 5 ft tall, with unattractive features" 😀 .....stop it please, tears are streaking down my face from laughing so hard since this morning .......

      August 24, 2012 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  5. Mark

    How apropos. My kids and I just watched that movie yesterday.

    August 23, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  6. High Way

    I could have done the same thing blindfolded but better. Sarcasm aside, its a total disgrace what they did with the painting. Ignorance and stupidity at its finest.

    August 23, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Chris Reddom

    Who cares. Really....

    August 23, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Bonking BIll

    This is way too funny. Are they sure it wasn't Bean dressed up as an old lady?

    August 23, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Kevin

    Jesus became a sloth.

    August 23, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  10. m0rtis

    next time don't ask your sheep to "fix things up" – she did as best she could. When you try to breed all the intelligence out of your followers, don't be surprised when stupid happens.

    August 23, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  11. BOMBO ©

    It doesn't look like Jesus anymore. It looks like an old Russian woman with Down's syndrome.

    August 23, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
  12. brad-ash

    Love how she changed the eyes to a "come hither look".

    August 23, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kafir

      I do believe you mean a "Come Hitler" look.

      August 24, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Phil

    Ecce Oh No

    August 23, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  14. donluciano

    its more than likely that it resembles "the real jesus" far closer than the "so called" original.. (ceasar bogia's son) the second son of pope alexander. This story is reverse propaganda,, to place in the minds of the reader/viewer that jesus's image couldnt possibly be anything other than the original propaganda of making the son of god in the image of the caucasian. Not to mention the reinforcing of the name itself "jesus" which didnt exist in that time period ( the letter J<– did not exist) YASHUA – YEWAH was the more likely the name, So if they could chang the name,,,, why not change the face???????? ? better yet,,,, change the whole damm story!!!!

    August 23, 2012 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Archived

    As someone who appreciates historical things and art this is sad, but also hilarious. Caesere Borgia never looked better.

    August 23, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
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