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August 27, 2012

‘Worst art restoration in history’ spawns Potato Jesus meme makeovers

The Last Potato Supper

A Spanish retiree has inadvertently started an Internet craze that uses her ruined restoration of a painting depicting Jesus on top of famous works of art.

Cecilia Giménez, an 81 year old grandmother, became a worldwide celebrity last week after her restoration attempt went viral for entirely the wrong reasons.

The original painting, before and after

Giménez painted over the crumbling 120-year-old fresco despite having no prior experience in art restoration. Her final result has been dubbed the ‘Potato Jesus’, as it bears very little resemblance to the original Ecce Homo by Elias Garcia Martinez, and more to a bloated hedgehog or potato, say many. It is also being referred to as the worst art restoration in history.

The painting is drawing hundreds to the Catholic church of Santuario de la Misericordia in Borja, near Madrid, who want to see Giménez’ botched restoration efforts for themselves.

The Mona Potato

Although the image has no real historical significance or monetary value, residents say it does have great local importance. Descendants of the original painter who still live in the area are outraged over the damage, and that responsibility for the painting’s rejuvenation was given to an amateur. Local officials are still deciding what to do.

Twitter users started calling the painting ‘Ecce Mono’, or ‘Behold the Monkey’

“Everyone who came into the church could see me as I was painting,” a tearful Giménez said during an interview with Spanish news television. “I didn’t do anything secretly. The priest knew. How could I do something like this without permission?”

Hours after the story broke, Twitter users started called the painting ‘Ecce Mono’ instead of ‘Ecce Homo’, meaning ‘Behold the Monkey’ instead of ‘Behold the Man’.

There is no doubt that the meme has since become more famous than the original, with thousands of famous artworks and depictions of Christ being replaced with the Potato Jesus.


About the Author

Evon Koprowski
Brand storyteller, creative strategist, content marketer and all round bon vivant at Red Fortune Media where I growth hack projects for the arts, culture, tourism, technology and social sectors. I'm freelance - if I can help you, get in touch.

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