Amateur restorer 'very sad' after fresco restoration fiasco

The painting was a valuable 19th century fresco. Photo: Centro de Estudios Borjanos

An elderly woman destroyed a 19th century Spanish fresco painting after she decided to attempt a DIY restoration job.

Cecilia Gimenez is a dedicated volunteer at the Sanctuary of Mercy Church near Zaragoza in Spain where Elias Garcia Martinez's work 'Ecco Homo', or 'Behold the Man', hangs.

'Behold the Man' - the fresco painting before the 'restoration'. Credit: EBU

The painting takes pride of place at the church and Mrs Gimenez decided to 'restore' the painting as she was upset the image had been damaged by years of moisture decay.

Her artistic endeavour resulted in the religious painting being changed almost beyond recognition: she painted over most of the delicate details of the face and beard, added a ill-fitting tunic, and changed the shape of the head quite considerably.

ITV News Correspondent Nina Nannar reports:

The botched job was discovered by the artist's granddaughter, who happened to be visiting the church to make a donation to restore the painting. Spanish jokesters have renamed the painting revamped work 'Ecco Mono', or 'Behold the Monkey'.

Local culture councillor Juan Maria de said the restoration work was done "with good intentions" but without permission. Mrs Gimenez insists she had the permission of the priest, and her artistic endeavours were to save her church time and money.

Mrs Gimenez had the permission of the priest to restore the work. Credit: EBU

She said she was disappointed and sad that her efforts and energy had not restored the painting to its original glory. She explained:

We have always repaired everything here ourselves. [...] The priest knew about about it, he did, How could I do something like that without permission? [...] I did not do it secretly, everyone who entered the church could see me.

The artist's granddaughter said she was was very disappointed by Mrs Gimenez's efforts:

It was bad enough when she painted the tunic, but the problems started worse when she painted on the head as well, because the painting is destroyed.

The local culture councillor Juan Maria Ojeda said they will hire a professional art restorer to try and salvage the work.

I think she had good intentions. Next week she will meet with a repairer and explain what kind of materials she used. If we can't fix it, we will probably cover the wall with a photo of it