Frescoes or bullfights?


An “amateur restorer” turned the fresco in the middle to what you see on the right (the image on the left is the original); I imagine it’s the biggest news to come out of Borja, Spain since, well, ever.

Clearly undeterred by her lack of artistic ability or experience, Cecelia Gimenez, an 80ish parishioner of Santuario de la Misericordia, took on the restoration project of the century-old fresco with what I would describe as zeal and determination. Both Senora Gimenez and her granddaughter claim that a priest associated with the church knew what she was up to, but admit that he had only given permission for the older woman to “do the tunic work”. Apparently she got a little carried away and moved on to the face and the crown of thorns.

It happens, the getting carried away thing. I do it all the time. I don’t go to The Met and see what I can get up to with my paintbrushes, but I have been known to tackle the bedroom closet, only to realize the overwhelming nature of the task after the contents are on top of the bed. Because we need somewhere to sleep I end up throwing everything back into the closet and, well, it ends up looking something like the photo on the right.

Frankly, the end result of her work notwithstanding, I have to applaud her energy and her level of commitment. She’s in her 80s. I’m in my 40s. The paint and shelves for my hallway have been nestled next to the old, broken Christmas lights that my husband saved because he can fix them, uh-huh, at the bottom of the hall closet (which is in far worse shape than the bedroom closet, far worse shape) since October of 2010.

Also, I think it’s interesting that no one noticed what she was doing. I can’t eat a Snickers bar at midnight without someone hearing the wrapper coming off. I can’t make an after-dinner cup of coffee without someone wanting one, too. It’s like a Dunkin’ Donuts around here at 9 pm. So, either the folks in Borja, Spain are uncharacteristically nonchalant, or blind, or they knew what she was doing. My money’s on the latter.

One really has to wonder, what with the number of sights to see on a jaunt through Spain, if tourism has fallen off at the Santuario de la Misericordia. Sure, it’s on the way to Pamplona from Madrid and Barcelona, but I would imagine that there are far more elaborate churches to visit and older frescoes to see, and, really, bulls are far more exciting, aren’t they? I’ll bet you’d just be itching to get to Pamplona. Though I’ve never personally had the opportunity to attend a bullfight, I have seen a few tapestries (there being a dearth of frescoes in America, unless graffiti counts), but Spain is flush with frescoes, I’m sure. Anyway, I’d venture to guess that veering off to take a gander at, yet another (ho-hum) painting of Jesus on a church wall that looks pretty much the same as the painting of Jesus on the last church wall, would pale in comparison to bullfighting and, if you’re lucky and there at the right time, bull-running. I’ll bet you’ll make that stop in Borja now, though, if you’re in the area. I know I would.

6 thoughts on “Frescoes or bullfights?

  1. the closet fiasco. I do it all the time. I have a pile on my bed right now. I sleep to the left of it.

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  2. MJ Conner says:

    I think the painting has been or is being worked on by a group of art restoration experts. At least her damage can be removed and the original painting can be appropriately restored. Good post!

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  3. Okay, I’m dying to know how she presented this to them…was she proud of this accomplishment or was she like “oopsie!”

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