Good Deed Gone Bad: Art Restoration Horribly Botched


Catholic parishioners in the Spanish town of Borja had hoped for a restored century-old painting of Jesus Christ. Instead, the painting was returned to their church defaced.

The culprit was an elderly woman who tried to touch up the weathered “ecce homo” fresco herself. She claims to have had the best intentions and even permission from the parish priest.

The painting is by Elias Garcia Martinez, a 19th-century painter. It has hung in the Sanctuary of Mercy Church in Borja, near the city of Zaragoza, for more than 100 years.

Ecce homo translates to “behold the man.” It’s an artistic motif that shows Jesus, usually bound and with a crown of thorns, right before his crucifixion, according to the New York Times.

Art historians are expected to meet at the church soon to discuss how to repair the painting. But Joyce Hill Stoner, a paintings conservator at the University of Delaware, says the damage may be irreversible. The news shocked her and her students.

“They know it wasn’t done in any malicious way

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