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I can paint that! Wait, no I can't! Amateur artist messes up century-old artwork

Aug. 22, 2012 at 3:19 PM ET

Would you think to match your home-grown painting skills against a classical artist? Probably not, but that's just what a well-intentioned woman in her 80s did recently in Spain.

Centro De Estudios Borjanos via EPA /
The picture on the left shows the original work, the one in the middle the pre-renovated fresco and the one on the right shows the damaged painting.

The three photos above tell the tale. The image on the left is the original work, a century-old oil painting of Christ called "Ecce Homo (Behold the Man)" that was painted on a column inside a church near Zaragoza, Spain, by artist Elias Garcia Martinez.

Over the years, the work began to deteriorate, as shown in the second image. According to the Centre de Estudios Borjanos, the unnamed amateur artist (without permission from the church, needless to say) thought she could improve the work and set to work with paints and brushes. The third picture is the result.

The BBC reports that the woman realized her mistake and contacted Juan Maria Ojeda, a city council member in charge of cultural affairs for the area. "I think she had good intentions," Ojeda told the BBC.

A team of art restoration experts is reportedly examining the painting, will quiz the woman on what materials she used in her attempt, and will figure out how best to proceed. 

"If we can't fix it, we will probably cover the wall with a photo of the painting," Ojeda told the BBC.

The BBC Europe correspondent described the painting's current state as resembling "a crayon sketch of a very hairy monkey in an ill-fitting tunic."

While Martinez's work was not considered especially valuable, the BBC reports that the painter's granddaughter had just donated a sum of money to restore the peeling image. Apparently the helpful would-be artist took it upon herself to get involved without knowing that, but if she had just waited, the work would have been fixed properly.

What do you think of the resulting artwork? Do you feel sorry for the woman, or should she have known better? Tell us on Facebook.

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