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29 May, 2018 01:07

Art attack: 5 masterpieces that have been damaged by vandals

Art attack: 5 masterpieces that have been damaged by vandals

The famous Russian painting ‘Ivan the Terrible Killing His Son’ was intentionally damaged in an attack on Friday - the latest in a long line of art vandalism stretching back to the Vandals invasion of Rome in 455 AD.

The renowned 1885 work by Ilya Repin was severely damaged when a man, who later blamed his actions on a shot of vodka, attacked the painting with a metal pole. The painting was previously slashed with a knife in 1913 but was later restored by Repin himself.

Vodka rage v Ivan the Terrible: Man mauls iconic Russian painting after taking a shot at museum

In light of the art attack, RT looks at other pieces of art that have attracted vandals since the term ‘vandalisme’ was coined to describe the destruction of artwork in the wake of the French Revolution.

Mona Lisa

Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa has been the target of several attacks over the decades, however, it has been shielded from recent attacks with bulletproof glass.


Most notably in 1956, the lower part of the painting was severely damaged when a vandal doused the painting with acid while it was on display at a museum in France. A couple of months later, a man threw a rock at it, removing some pigment, which was later painted over.

The Night Watch

Rembrandt’s ‘Night Watch’ has also been vandalised on several occasions. In 1975, William de Rijk, an unemployed school teacher, slashed the painting a day after he was turned away from the museum for arriving after closing time. He was later diagnosed with a mental disorder and sent to a psychiatric hospital. He committed suicide the following year. The painting was restored after six months of work, but traces of the cuts still remain.


In 1990, a man threw acid on the artwork, but the damage was minimal as guards reacted quickly by diluting it with water.


The mural-sized oil painting, created by Pablo Picasso in response to Nazi Germany’s bombing of the Spanish village Guernica, was targeted as part of a political protest.


Tony Shafrazi, now the owner of the Shafrazi Art Gallery in New York, spray-painted the words ‘Kill Lies All’ in red across the art piece in 1974. He was protesting Richard Nixon’s decision to pardon US Lieutenant William Calley for his part in the My Lai Massacre in Vietnam. The paint was easily removed from the surface.


Michelangelo’s marble work depicting the Virgin Mary cradling the dead body of Christ was struck with a hammer several times in 1972. Parts of Mary’s arm and face were broken off during the strike. The man who dealt the blow, Laszlo Toth, declared he was Jesus Christ, risen from the dead.


The Renaissance masterpiece was severely damaged, but it was later restored and returned to St. Peter's Basilica and placed behind a panel of bulletproof glass.

Rokeby Venus

In 1914, militant suffragette Mary Richardson charged Diego Velázquez’s provocative painting Rokeby Venus with a meat cleaver. She left seven slashes on the painting in protest of the arrest of fellow suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst.


“I have tried to destroy the picture of the most beautiful woman in mythological history as a protest against the Government for destroying Mrs. Pankhurst, who is the most beautiful character in modern history,” she said in a statement following her arrest. The painting was fully restored and later returned for display.

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