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Activists throw soup over Vincent van Gogh’s masterpiece in Rome

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Eco mob take the pea: Activists throw pea soup over Vincent van Gogh masterpiece in Rome in latest attack on artworks

  • Enviromental activists threw soup over Van Gogh’s ‘The Sower’ on Friday
  • This is the latest is a series of attacks by environmental activists on artwork
  • A total of four activists have been arrested, according to news reports
  • The group say they are protesting carbon use and natural gas extraction
  • They warn that these attacks won’t stop until stronger climate action is taken
  • The attack caused no permanent damage to the glass covered painting 

A group of activists on Friday threw pea soup onto a Vincent van Gogh masterpiece in Rome, in a protest they warned will continue until more attention was paid to climate change.

‘The Sower’, an 1888 painting by the Dutch artist depicting a farmer sowing his land under a dominating sun, was exhibited behind glass and undamaged. 

Security intervened immediately and removed the protesters kneeling in front of ‘The Sower’ at the Palazzo Bonaparte. Protesters from the same group, the Last Generation, earlier blocked a highway near Rome.

Four activists were arrested, according to news reports.

This is the latest vandalism attack by environmental groups on world famous artworks.

Activist on Friday threw pea soup onto a Vincent van Gogh's 'The Sower' in Rome

Activist on Friday threw pea soup onto a Vincent van Gogh’s ‘The Sower’ in Rome

This is just the latest in a series of attacks by environmental activists targeting artwork

This is just the latest in a series of attacks by environmental activists targeting artwork

The vandals then glued their hands to the wall after throwing the soup at Palazzo Bonaparte in Rome

The vandals then glued their hands to the wall after throwing the soup at Palazzo Bonaparte in Rome

Four activists were arrested, according to news reports

Four activists were arrested, according to news reports

The climate activists from Last Generation called their protest ‘a desperate and scientifically grounded cry that cannot be understood as mere vandalism’.

‘Non-violent direct actions will continue until citizens get answers from their government on the demands to stop gas and coal and to invest in at least 20 GW of renewables,’ they said in a statement.

Video images taken from inside a museum gallery crowded with visitors show two young women throwing a liquid substance onto the painting.

They and a third woman are then seen gluing their hands to the wall as shouting erupts in the room.

The group from Last Generation threw pea soup over the 'The Sewer' at the Palazzo Bonaparte in Rome

The group from Last Generation threw pea soup over the ‘The Sewer’ at the Palazzo Bonaparte in Rome

Security removed the protesters who were kneeling in front of the painting, having glued their hands to the wall

Security removed the protesters who were kneeling in front of the painting, having glued their hands to the wall

Video images showed two young women throwing a liquid substance on to the painting

Video images showed two young women throwing a liquid substance on to the painting

‘For shame!’ someone in the crowd can be heard shouting.

The stunt backfired for some onlookers.

‘It totally defeats the purpose,’ Hans Bergetoft, a tourist from Stockholm, said. ‘I am really for the cause in itself, but not the action. Not the action that they took. Not at all.’

Italy’s new culture minister, Gennaro Sangiuliano, condemned the protest.

‘Attacking art is an ignoble act that must be firmly condemned,’ he said. ‘Culture, which is the basis of our identity, must be defended and protected, and certainly not used as a megaphone for other forms of protest.

The painting belongs to the Kroller-Muller Museum in the Netherlands and was on loan for a show in Italy’s capital featuring works by Van Gogh. Officials said the 1888 painting was undamaged. 

Climate activists have carried out a series of attacks – using soup, cake or mashed potatoes – in Europe in recent weeks.

They have targeted masterpieces such as the ‘Mona Lisa’ by Leonardo da Vinci in the Louvre in Paris or ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ by Johannes Vermeer at The Hague’s Mauritshuis museum.

In October, the group Just Stop Oil threw tomato soup over Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’ at London’s National Gallery.

All of those paintings were covered by glass and were undamaged.

‘Everything that we would have the right to see in our present and our future is being obscured by a real and imminent catastrophe, just as this pea puree has covered the work in the fields…’ Last Generation said in its statement Friday.

‘The Sower’ is on show at Rome’s Palazzo Bonaparte, part of an exhibition of 50 paintings by Dutch master Van Gogh on loan from the Kroller Muller Museum in Otterlo in the Netherlands.

The exhibit organisers, Arthemisia, did not respond to a request for more information on the attack.

This is a breaking story. More to follow.

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