Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’ painting smeared with soup by climate change protesters
On Friday, climate activists at London’s National Gallery splashed soup over Vincent van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” to protest the extraction of fossil fuels, but the painting was safe since it was protected by glass.
Two cans of tomato soup were allegedly spilled on an oil painting by the Dutch master, considered to be one of the artist’s most famous works, as part of a protest demanding that the British government put an end to new oil and gas developments. They both attached themselves to the gallery wall in a show of solidarity.
The painting and its gilt frame were damaged when soup was spilled on them. The gallery noted that while the frame had sustained some damage, the artwork itself was fine. On Friday afternoon, it was cleaned and put back where it belonged in the gallery.
This is one of many variations of Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” from the 1890s.
Two people were reportedly arrested by the Metropolitan Police of London on suspicion of criminal damage and aggravated trespass.
The police said in a statement, “Specialist officers have now un-glued them and they have been taken into custody to a central London police station,”
Later, the same group of protestors assembled in front of the police department’s headquarters and splashed the spinning “New Scotland Yard” sign with yellow paint. Many more also stuck to the road, preventing vehicles from passing. At least 24 persons, according to the police, were detained.
For attacking artworks in museums, Just Stop Oil has garnered attention and condemnation. A group calling themselves “Just Stop Oil” attached themselves to the frame of “The Last Supper” by Leonardo da Vinci at London’s Royal Academy of Arts and to the frame of “The Hay Wain” by John Constable at the National Gallery.
The two weeks of protests in London have included the blocking of bridges and intersections.
Despite condemnation from environmentalists and scientists who say the move undermines the country’s commitment to fighting climate change, the British government has opened a fresh licensing window for North Sea oil and gas exploration, sparking a wave of protests.