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5 Jul, 2022 14:18

Eco activists target 500-year-old painting

The protesters glued themselves onto the frame of a copy of Da Vinci’s ‘The Last Supper’ to demonstrate against fossil fuels
Eco activists target 500-year-old painting

Five protesters glued their hands onto the frame of a 500-year-old reproduction of Leonardo Da Vinci’s ‘The Last Supper’ in London on Tuesday, in what they called “an act of civil resistance” against fossil fuels. 

The five activists entered the Royal Academy of Arts on Tuesday morning and spray-painted “No new oil” beneath the 20-foot (six-meter) painting, and glued their hands onto its frame. Security guards cleared visitors away before attempting to unstick the eco-warriors, the Daily Mail reported.

The activists’ organization, Just Stop Oil, said in a press release that they were “calling for the government to commit to immediately halt new oil and gas licenses in the UK,” and for art institutions like the Royal Academy to join their “peaceful civil resistance.”

Painted by Giampietrino circa 1520, the painting in question is a full-scale copy of Leonardo Da Vinci’s masterpiece, depicting the biblical scene in which Jesus tells his twelve apostles that a member of the group will betray him. Its value is thought to be in the tens of millions of dollars, as Da Vinci’s original, located in the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, is estimated to be worth at least $450 million.

Just Stop Oil states on its website that it is funded by members of the public and some unnamed “foundations and groups.”

Inspired by the sticky protests of their fellow climate activists at the Extinction Rebellion, Just Stop Oil’s members have targeted a number of precious works of art in recent days.

Two activists glued themselves to the frame of John Constable’s ‘The Hay Wain’ at the National Gallery on Monday and draped the painting in a polluted and dystopian reimagining of the 1821 classic. The gallery said the surface varnish and frame of the painting suffered minor damage. 

The same activist group disrupted the British Grand Prix over the weekend, and last week glued themselves to paintings in London, Glasgow, and Manchester, including Vincent Van Gogh’s famous ‘Peach Trees in Blossom’.

The protests come as Britons struggle with record high fuel prices, and face rising energy costs this winter. Market instability over the conflict in Ukraine, as well as the UK government’s decision to voluntarily cut itself off from Russian oil and gas, has contributed to the spiraling fuel costs.