Famous botched restoration: ecce homo

Despite Good Intentions, a Fresco in Spain Is Ruined





The three versions of the “ecce homo” fresco of Jesus. From left, the original version by Elías García Martínez, a 19th-century painter; a deteriorated version of the fresco; the restored version by Cecilia Giménez. Credit Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

MADRID — A case of suspected vandalism in a church in a northeastern village in Spain has turned out to be probably the worst art restoration project of all time.

An elderly woman stepped forward this week to claim responsibility for disfiguring a century-old “ecce homo” fresco of Jesus crowned with thorns, in Santuario de la Misericordia, a Roman Catholic church in Borja, near the city of Zaragoza.

Ecce homo, or behold the man, refers to an artistic motif that depicts Jesus, usually bound and with a crown of thorns, right before his crucifixion.

The woman, Cecilia Giménez, who is in her 80s, said on Spanish national television that she had tried to restore the fresco, which she called her favorite local representation of Jesus, because she was upset that parts of it had flaked off due to moisture on the church’s walls.

The authorities in Borja said they had suspected vandalism at first, but then determined that the shocking alterations had been made by an elderly parishioner. The authorities said she had acted on her own.

But Ms. Giménez later defended herself, saying she could not understand the uproar because she had worked in broad daylight and had tried to salvage the fresco with the approval of the local clergy. “The priest knew it,” she told Spanish television. “I’ve never tried to do anything hidden.”

Ms. Giménez said she had worked on the fresco using a 10-year-old picture of it, but she eventually left Jesus with a half-beard and, some say, a monkeylike appearance. The fresco’s botched restoration came to light this month when descendants of the 19th-century artist, Elías García Martínez, proposed making a donation toward its upkeep.

News of the disfiguring prompted Twitter users and bloggers to post parodies online inserting Ms. Giménez’s version of the fresco into other artworks. Some played on the simian appearance of the portrait.

The Borja authorities said they were now considering taking legal action against Ms. Giménez, although they insisted that their priority was to try to return the work to its original state, under the guidance of art historians.

UPDATE: 

The painting was not able to be restored. Perhaps they should have given us a call...

Interestingly, By 2016, more than 160,000 visitors flocked to the Sanctuary of Mercy church since the botched restoration, scooping up “Ecce Homo” souvenirs from pens ($2) to mugs ($7) to wine featuring Jesus’ tragically altered face on the label (approximately $4 to $11 a bottle).

The global curiosity has since led to a boom in tourism that’s allowed restaurants and museums in Borja, population 5,000, to remain stable during Spain’s crippling recession.

“The level of these numbers [of tourists] . . . has never happened before,” says Elena Aznar Martinez, who handles marketing for “Ecce Homo.”

“The visitors recognize me,” Giménez, 85, an amateur painter who had performed multiple church-sanctioned renovations of “Ecce Homo” over the years, tells The Post. “They take photos with [the painting] and with me . . . even though I tell them, ‘My children, I’m not an important person.’ ”

Visitors are charged 1 euro per person to enter the church for viewing, and all proceeds go to a church-affiliated nursing home. Fifty-one percent of the proceeds from souvenir sales go to the nursing home, while 49 percent go to Giménez, who uses the money to care for her 56-year-old son, José Antonio, who has cerebral palsy.

There is now also an opera based on the event and Ms. Giménez herself is now seeking payment from the production...

Cited from:
https://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/24/world/europe/botched-restoration-of-ecce-homo-fresco-shocks-spain.html
https://nypost.com/2016/03/12/infamous-botched-jesus-painting-now-a-major-tourist-attraction/


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