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. thesanepartydcom

    Ahhhm fair to middl'n with a brush

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

    that's hilarious but tragic lol

    August 23, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Madgaurd

    Stop laughing!!! That obese howler monkey died for our sins.

    August 23, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Seth

      Howler haha

      August 23, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Guest

      OMG, that is hilarious! I can't stop laughing 🙂

      August 23, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • sam

      Ok, that was a good.

      August 23, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  4. badr99

    Was it part of the challenge to 'restore' it while blindfolded?

    August 23, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Philip

    For those of you claiming that Jesus was made-up and that there wasn't even a "J" in the hebrew alphabet...
    His name is pronounced Yeshua, in hebrew, Jesus, in english. We still sing "Hallelujah" in church, rather than Alleluia. (a hebrew phrase that translates in english as "Praise Jehovah you peoples". (Yahweh, in hebrew)
    And Jesus is a man of historical record, not just bible record. Not to mention that roughly 80% of humanity believe Jesus walked this earth. Even muslims. (not your friendly jews though. They say christians lie about Jesus, just as many here do)

    August 23, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe from CT, not Lieberman

      Jews recognize Yeheshua bar Yosef and his brother Yacob bar Yosef as radical teachers during the 2nd Temple Period. They just do not recognize Yeheshua as Messiah ( the Anointed One, translated into Greek as Christos) nor their mother, Miriam bat Yohachim, as the Mother of God.

      August 23, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kafir

      No primary sources for the biblical jesus exist. Any sources at all were second hand accounts, written after his proposed lifetime.

      August 24, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Steve

    Why can't people proof read their damn articles. Dumb as ses

    August 23, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  7. blinky

    That is appalling, but at least it is not something really old from the Renaissance or Baroque. There are lots and lots of genre devotional works from the 19th century. Sad, because it looked accomplished if damaged to start out with. How could the re-do turn out so disfigured and clumsy?

    August 23, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Shaun

    He's even go the McKayla Smirk going on.

    Restored Jesus is Not Impressed.

    August 23, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shaun

      "got" rather. 🙂

      August 23, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  9. W.G.

    What a TRAGEDY .

    August 23, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  10. gwen

    baahaahaahaahaahaahaaahaaahaaa!! redflag word was 'elderly parishioner'. professional painter is obviously not in their phone directory.

    August 23, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Michael

    I paint murals for a living. If they would simply fly me out there and pay my expenses, I would fix it for free. Piece of cake.

    August 23, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Philip

    You choose evolution over God because evolution lets you hump anything that wiggles. Give it up.

    August 23, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • JeffinIL

      I'll give it up when you pry it from my cold, dead hand.

      August 23, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Arick

      Ummm no, I believe in evolution, rather than god, because one has proof (evolution) and the other (god) has fairy tales.

      August 23, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • sam

      No one cares about your kinky fantasies, Phillip.

      August 23, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jill

    I believe that it was irresponsible of the priest, if he really did hire this woman, to ask a woman who is clearly not a professional to restore the panting.

    August 23, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  14. pmc

    At least there are pics of how it used to be
    What a shame.

    August 23, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Seth

    looks like a beautiful owl!!

    August 23, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
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