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27 Oct, 2022 20:13

Climate protesters attack iconic painting

A ‘Just Stop Oil’ campaigner glued his head to Vermeer’s ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ before he was arrested
Climate protesters attack iconic painting

Three climate change activists with the ‘Just Stop Oil’ group have been arrested for “public violence against goods” after they attacked Vermeer’s famous ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ painting at the Mauritshuis museum in The Hague on Thursday. The priceless artwork is reportedly undamaged. 

A video of the incident posted to social media shows one protester pouring a can of what appears to be tomato soup over the head of another before both remove their jackets to reveal t-shirts emblazoned with the ‘Just Stop Oil’ slogan. One of the protesters then glued his head to the glass panel protecting the painting’s surface, while the other stuck his hand to the wall next to the painting. According to the Maritshuis, a third protester also threw an “unknown substance” at the painting.

How do you feel when you see something beautiful and priceless being apparently destroyed before your eyes?” one of the demonstrators asks the horrified crowd, framing their outrage as “good” while asking, “Where is that feeling when you see the planet being destroyed before our very eyes?” 

The activist compared the painting, protected by glass, to “vulnerable people in the Global South” and “the future of our children,” both of which are “not protected.

Onlookers can be heard condemning their actions as “obscene” and “stupid,” though police appeared to wait until the pair had finished speaking their piece before hauling them off in handcuffs.

The museum reassured the public that the painting was “not damaged” and would return to display “as soon as possible,” declaring that “art is defenseless and to try and damage it for whichever cause, we strongly condemn it.

The attack is the latest in a series of assaults on classic artworks by Just Stop Oil and similar groups. Two more Just Stop Oil campaigners were arrested at the National Gallery earlier this month for criminal damage and aggravated trespass after assaulting Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’ with a can of soup, while a pair of activists from Letzte Generation (Last Generation) defaced Monet’s ‘Les Meules’ with tinned mashed potatoes and glued themselves to the floor at the Barberini museum in Germany. 

The demonstrators have also deployed spray paint and human waste in their efforts to bring attention to humanity’s climate-endangering behaviors, though the chilly reception they have received from the public has some questioning whether they are hurting the cause they claim to champion.