A fresco painted in the Santuario de la Misericordia chapel in a town near Zaragoza in the 19th century had suffered damage so a parishioner took it upon herself to restore it. The resulting picture has gone viral worldwide on social media sites.
'Ecce Homo', depicting Christ, was painted by Elías García Martínez. He wrote an inscription on the work saying "This is the result of two hours of work for the Virgin of Mercy." It's not a great work of art but was popular with churchgoers. Over time, the fresco had become damaged and a local lady took it upon herself to repaint it. An El Pais report on August 24 says that the result has led to world wide interest, with social networks abuzz with jokes about the 'artwork' and spoofs of it.
The Daily Mail reports that pensioner, Cecilia Jiménez, 81, is insisting that she had not finished the work and that she had permission from a priest to do it. The thick layer of oil paint she has used to cover the fresco will be very difficult to remove and on Monday August 27, art experts will examine the work to see if anything can be salvaged.
Following all the media interest, Cecilia is suffering panic attacks and won't leave her house. She insists, "'I had nothing but good intentions and always believed I was doing the right thing. Besides, I hadn't finished the painting!"Guardian newspaper writer Jonathan Jones says "It's hilarious to see how the would-be restorer's efforts resulted in a complete reinvention of the painting as a crude image with a face like a neanderthal man's self-portrait." The journalist points out, however, that it doesn't really matter as the original painting was no masterpiece and in fact, the botched restoration has suddenly brought the original artist into the spotlight. "A forgotten painting is now known around the world as a "masterpiece", because it was wrecked".
The councillor for culture in the town where Cecilia lives is taking the view that if a proper restoration of the original is not possible, then they will just put a photograph of the original in its place. The artist's family, however are not impressed, with his granddaughter saying on Spanish television, "It was bad enough that she painted the tunic,but the problem worsened when she started on the face because now the painting is completely destroyed."
While poor Cecilia suffers for her mistake, bloggers, jokers and Photoshop buffs are having a field day making fun of her efforts with the story of an unknown painting in a small church in a town in Spain going viral around the world.