UPDATED: Thursday, August 23, 2012 - 2:04pm
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.”