Lending a Devastating Hand

When an 80-year-old churchgoer took it upon herself to restore a 19th century fresco of Jesus Christ, she no doubt thought that it was a good idea, the end result, however, has half of Spain howling, either in indignation or in laughter, bless her cotton socks. (Click on image to enlarge)

The plaster portrait in the Sanctuary of Mercy Church in Zaragoza, Spain, is entitled ‘Ecce Homo’ and was painted by Elias Garcia Martinez 120 years ago. Time had taken its toll and the portrait had begun to crumble owing to damp. No cause for alarm because it was set to be repaired by professionals, thanks to a donation from the artist’s granddaughter.

However, Cecilia Giménez decided to restore the masterpiece herself, even though she is not an artist, and much less an expert at restoration work. So, alarmingly armed with paintbrushes and oil paints she set about ‘restoring’ the portrait. She says that the parish priest knew about it, but both he and the church authorities deny this.

Before the good lady set about turning an image of Christ into the Incredible Hulk, a local Catholic cultural foundation had received a donation from the granddaughter of the artist and motors were revving to returning the fresco to its former glory… and then Sra Giménez announced that there was no need as she had already done it…

Now, this complete and utter disaster – the fruit of good intentions – probably would not have reverberated through the International press if the Centro de Estudios Borjanos hadn’t had the bright idea of putting up several photos of the catastrophe on their webpage, with the intention of emphasising the vulnerability of works of art to the passage of time… and 80-year-old ladies with tragic initiative.

The Councillor for Culture for the town, Juan María de Ojeda, said, “The woman, who carried out the restoration work off her own back, has had a difficult life and looks after a 60-year-old handicapped son.” That having been said, the Town Hall is considering suing her…

(News: Zaragoza, Spain)

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