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. Phil

    Jumpin Jeezus in a hoodie!

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

    This woman is actually Mr. Bean's Mother!!!!

    August 23, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  3. HollywoodPR

    So many of you seem to spend your lives angry and pessimistic. It must really suck.

    August 23, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • ficheye

      Look at your own post!!! Ha ha ha ha ha!!! Someone has some prozac for you, of that I am certain....

      August 23, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  4. larry


    August 23, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Sharkmann

    On the bright side, the restorer made another Picasso.

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

      I too see the Picasso, must be my ancient art history knowledge.

      August 23, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Prof Hugo Farnsworth

    Great zombie Jesus!!

    August 23, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jarno

    This sounds like something the Onion would publish. If it was an article on the Onion, it'd be hilarious, but the fact that this sort of art vandalism happened, apparently under the eyes of people who should have known better, is pretty awful.

    And I'm not speaking from a religious perspective – as an atheist pictures of Jesus have no more inherent value to me than pictures of Zeus, or Mithras. But it is tragic to see historical pieces of art ruined out of ignorance or icompetence, or (as in the destruction of the Buddha statues by the Taleban), out of malevolence.

    August 23, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Shaun

    That looks like the yearbook photo of a kid conceived between Hagrid from Harry Potter and Animal from The Muppets. The caption would read "Most Likely To Need Plastic Surgery", or "Most Likely To Get A Job At a Gothic Cathedral As A Bell Ringer."

    August 23, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Laura

    I can't stop laughing.

    August 23, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Seth

      Laura , I am in the same boat , I can not stop laughing either , I think we must have similar senses of humor

      August 23, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  10. DM

    She was asked to do it. Not really her fault. Next time, ask an intelligent person for help with your priceless art restorations.

    August 23, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  11. puckles


    August 23, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Tracy

    What a shame

    August 23, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  13. wrabbit99

    Philistines.. artists are never appreciated during their time on earth..

    August 23, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  14. us_1776

    Why did they let her up on that 15 ft. ladder !!


    August 23, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Shaun

    Jesus... Jesus... Jesus... JESUS CATS! HOOOOOOO!

    August 23, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
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