Renegade Art Restoration Turns Into a Real-Life Photoshop Disaster

If there was such thing as a Photoshop disaster in real life, this story would probably qualify. An elderly woman in the city of Zaragoza, Spain recently took it upon herself to restore an 19th-century fresco of Jesus that had been deteriorating over the past few years. As you can see from the before and after photos above, the results weren’t pretty.

The woman was simply trying to do a good deed when she secretly took her paintbrush to the Elias Garcia Martinez painting, titled ‘Ecce Homo’. Although she didn’t have permission to do the restoration, she was apparently confident enough in her physical retouching skills to attempt it.

She claims that the project soon “got out of hand”, and the painting was left dramatically altered.

The BBC writes,

BBC Europe correspondent Christian Fraser says the delicate brush strokes of Elias Garcia Martinez have been buried under a haphazard splattering of paint.

The once-dignified portrait now resembles a crayon sketch of a very hairy monkey in an ill-fitting tunic, he says.

The woman appears to have realised she was out of her depth and contacted Juan Maria Ojeda, the city councillor in charge of cultural affairs.

Teresa Garcia, granddaughter of Elias Garcia Martinez, said the woman had painted the tunic before, but the fresco got disfigured when she painted Christ’s head.

The “restored” painting is currently being examined by professionals to see whether it can be restored to its former state. If it can’t, officials say they’ll probably replace the painting with an older photograph of the painting.

Too bad botched retouch jobs in real life can’t be fixed with a simple Undo command…

Update: Here’s an interview with the master retoucher herself (she seems like a sweet lady):

(via BBC via Doobybrain)

  • Bud Dha

    She would have been arrested in Sri Lanka for doing that

  • Matt

    She did a phenomenal job!

  • madmax

    Nothing to do with photography, but that “ecce homo” wasn´t very good nor the artist was relevant. Notwithstanding, it´s curious to see how Spanish administration goes: first they abandon the painting for decades and then, when the disaster comes and the painting is certainly lost, the city councellor hire a very expensive professional team to study if it can be restored.

  • Kit F

    In the article, the one on the left is the painting as of TWO YEARS AGO. It wasn’t abandoned for decades, this woman clearly did not know how to treat a painting and ruined it over 2 years, and apparently no one cared until now.

  • madmax

    Not at all. The one in the middle is two years ago and it´s already almost lost. Also, the tunic was repainted by this woman some time ago with the priest´s permission and nobody noticed it.

  • ninpou_kobanashi


  • Randy

    This is hilarious. lol

  • Tanja Schulte

    “but that “ecce homo” wasn´t very good nor the artist was relevant.”

    so it was pretty much like your photographs….

  • madmax

    Tanja, you don´t appear to know much of old paintings and know nothing about my photographs. Anyway, in Spain a lot of paintings need to be restored and the less valuable, like this, are abandoned.

  • Darwin

    OK! Darwin’s Theory of evolution confirmed

  • Ashley Byrd

    That is such a shame. What was she thinking? She probably feels terrible and humiliated, too.

  • Anatole Klapouch

    It’s sad, but can’t stop laughing!

  • CmdrAdobo

    Good job for making me laugh. Still can attract tourists.

  • junyo

    Main difference between Photoshop and real life? The Undo function doesn’t work for beans IRL.

  • Tanja Bananja

    Ignore Tanja – she is a troll of the highest order – her posts are filled with insults about other photographers, while she has nothing to show herself. She is a bitter racist never-been. Let her wallow in bitterness – not worth it.

  • Stoppit Tanja

    Tanja – I’m trying to find a link to your photographs so I can see the wonderous talent that allows you to be such an ever-present drag on this site. Every single article I read seems to have some post by you that you leave and never come back to respond to. Please – this isn;t meant to be a forum for your self-interested negativity. Kindly respond to why you feel a need to keep wasting our time.

  • 11

    Really love the newer version of the painting. It is humorous, creepy, abstracty, and conveys a lot more than the older one imo. why can’t people appreciate the new art here?

  • 11

    Tanja, this is a silly case of ad hominem attack.

  • stanimir stoyanov

    In a 100 years, they’ll talk about the post-modernism of this masterpiece.

  • 11

    Or if she was a Srilankan tourist in Spain..

  • madmax

    The old woman also said that the restoration was not yet finished. Probably, they don´t let her complete this masterpiece.

  • Robert (Kaiser-Machead) Alicea

    Praise monkey Jesus.

  • 11

    oh no! I just cant take my eyes off of those tiny nostrils and pointy eyes.. and the smeared mouth.. just amazing.

  • 11

    oh no! I just cant take my eyes off of those tiny nostrils and pointy eyes.. and the smeared mouth.. just amazing.

  • 11

    I’d pay 50 bucks to get a poster size to hang in my room.

  • From Zaragoza

    I live in Zaragoza (Saragossa) and this has not happened here, but in a near town called Borja (place of origin of the Borgias surname, by the way).
    I read this a few days ago and then it suddenly it has spread all around the world. Its a shame that this has happened, but the “painter” is a good-willed old lady that now is in bed with an anxiety attack.
    This has gone too far. The original painting had little artistic and economic value: it’s a fresco from the XIX century painted in the walls of a small country chapel.

  • farmerbob

    Lets setup a legal defense fund, just in case the lawyers get involved. Donations to send her on a arround the world art tour. Let us place her in a witness proctection program.

  • rene


  • Charn parn

    The power of Christ compelled her! Why else would she steal a painting to work on it at home?