Two climate activists from Just Stop Oil destroyed the glass protecting a painting by Diego Velázquez in the National Gallery in London on Monday. The two were arrested.
The demonstrators used safety hammers to break the glass of the painting ‘Venus in front of the mirror’, which was painted by Spaniard Diego Velázquez in the mid-17th century. Police arrested the activists on suspicion of criminal damage.
Just Stop Oil gave the names of the two – Hanan, 22, and Harrison, 20, and said their actions were intended to demand the government immediately halt all new oil and gas projects in the UK.
‘Politics is letting us down. Politics failed women in 1914 and is failing us now,” he said in a reference to the damage the work of art had already suffered in 1914 by the suffragette Mary Richardson. ‘New oil and gas will kill millions of people. If we love art, if we love life, if we love our families, then we must stop oil,” the activists said.
The work has now been removed and is being examined for damage, the museum said. ‘Venus in front of the mirror’ is the only surviving work of four portraits of Venus that Velázquez made. It was one of the rare times he ventured into the nude.