Botched art is an online sensation

But octogenarian's escapade could end in legal action

The Spanish pensioner who has achieved worldwide notoriety for her botched attempts to spruce up a 19th-century fresco of Christ is herself in need of some restoration. So unrelenting has been the attention focused on her less-than-professional brushstrokes that Cecilia Giménez, an 81-year-old grandmother, has reportedly suffered an anxiety attack and taken to her bed.

Pastiches of her handiwork have become an online craze. Versions of the Mona Lisa, The Last Supper and The Scream bearing the same vacant face that Mrs Giménez painted on Ecce Homo (Behold the Man), are now being gleefully exchanged. And her work is not without its appreciators. More than 10,000 people have subscribed to a petition calling for the fresco to be left as it is. Some even claim to see artistic merit in it. The Giménez version, says the petition, "reveals a subtle criticism of the church's creationist theories while questioning a resurgence of new idols". Another supporter, a self-described art historian, wrote that the revamp is "completely modern, reflecting a simple and naive popular mysticism".

Yet the relatives of Elías García Martínez, the painter of the fresco, are rather less able to see the joke. A panel of art experts is due to examine it to see if the restoration work can be reversed, and there is talk of legal action being taken.

The painting – of a wistful-looking Christ wearing a crown of thorns – was created about a century ago, on the wall of the church in Borja, near Zaragoza. Mrs Giménez, a regular worshipper who had always been drawn to the fresco, had been unsettled for some time by the steady deterioration in its condition. She was determined to repair the ravages of time and, she says, sought and obtained permission from the priest to do so. "We have always repaired everything ourselves here," she told Spanish television.

So, having limbered up by practising on a copy of the García Martínez painting, she set to work. As she points out: "Anybody who entered the church was able to see me painting." The result was, well, unique. In place of the battered, but deft, face of Christ in a robe, there was now what looked like a very early Modigliani in a hooded Babygro. This, however, is possibly a premature judgement, since, Mrs Giménez's family says, she was taking a breather and the face would have been OK when she finished it.

It is unlikely now she will ever get the chance. Even if she recovers her appetite for giving devotional paintings a new lick of paint, the spotlight on the Borja church means she will no longer be left to her own devices. The priest, Fr Florencio Garces, thinks the fresco should be covered up for the time being to deter sniggering rubber-neckers. But, should Mrs Giménez recover her equilibrium, her artistic career may now take off. She told Spanish media that she once had a "four-room exhibition" and sold 40 of her works. Aided by the publicity of the past few days, she may now find collectors beating a hurried path to her door.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

music
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

music
Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

art
Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Arts and Entertainment
James singer Tim Booth
latitude 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Lee says: 'I never, ever set out to offend, but it can be an accidental by-product'
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe judges were wowed by the actress' individual cooking style
Arts and Entertainment
Nicholas says that he still feels lucky to be able to do what he loves, but that there is much about being in a band he hates
musicThere is much about being in a band that he hates, but his debut album is suffused with regret
Arts and Entertainment
The singer, who herself is openly bisexual, praised the 19-year-old sportsman before launching into a tirade about the upcoming Winter Olympics

books
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Cryer and Ashton Kutcher in the eleventh season of Two and a Half Men

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

    A land of the outright bizarre
    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
    Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

    The worst kept secret in cinema

    A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
    Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
    Why do we have blood types?

    Are you my type?

    All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
    Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

    Honesty box hotels

    Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

    Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

    The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn