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Climate activist glues his head to Vermeer’s ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’

One of the protesters said that the painting was protected, unlike ‘future of our children’

On Thursday, a Just Stop Oil activist in the Netherlands attempted to superglue his head to Johannes Vermeer’s painting Girl with a Pearl Earring, while another activist emptied a can of tomato soup over him.

“How do you feel when you see something beautiful and priceless apparently being destroyed before your eyes?” asked one of the protesters. “Do you feel outraged? Good. Where is that feeling when you see the planet being destroyed?” 

He went on to say that the painting is “protected by glass and is just fine”, but that “the future of our children” was not.

Dutch police arrested three people at the Mauritshuis museum in The Hague, where the painting is kept.

The museum said that the Vermeer work, which is kept behind glass, had been examined by its restorers and had not been damaged. “Art is defenceless and the Mauritshuis strongly rejects trying to damage it for whatever purpose,” it said.

A spokesperson for the museum, René Timmermans, said that the museum was well-prepared for such protests. “Internally, there has been lots of consultation about what extra measures we can take,” he said. However, he added that “you can never 100 per cent prevent protest actions.”

The Mauritshuis protest is the latest in a series of art-related climate justice demonstrations across Europe. Just this week, German environmental group, Letzte Generation (Last Generation) threw mashed potatoes over Claude Monet’s Les Meules in Potsdam. Earlier in the month, Just Stop Oil threw tomato soup over Vincent van Gogh’s Sunflowers at the National Gallery in London. In spring, the Mona Lisa got caked.

What’s next? Are they going to throw a lasagne at Guernica? A bowl of porridge at The Kiss? A Caesar salad at The Birth of Venus? Who knows – but it probably won’t be long before we find out.