Just Stop Oil activist tries to glue own head to Girl with a Pearl Earring

Protester at The Hague’s Mauritshuis says Vermeer painting protected and fine unlike ‘future of our children’

Dutch police have arrested three people at the Mauritshuis museum in The Hague after Johannes Vermeer’s golden age masterpiece Girl with a Pearl Earring became the latest target of climate protesters.

Video published on social media showed two men wearing Just Stop Oil T-shirts in front of the painting, one of whom tried to superglue his shaven head to the artwork while the other emptied what appeared to be a can of tomato soup over him.

BREEK - Meisje met de parel van Johannes Vermeer besmeurd in #Mauritshuis. pic.twitter.com/XzAZTOoBv9

— Steven Bakker (@Kolpen) October 27, 2022

The museum said in a statement that the work, which was 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.

It comes after members of a German environmental group, Letzte Generation (Last Generation), threw mashed potatoes over Claude Monet’s Les Meules (Haystacks) in the Museum Barberini in Potsdam, outside Berlin, on Sunday.

Ten days previously, Just Stop Oil activists emptied tomato soup over Vincent van Gogh’s Sunflowers at the National Gallery in London before gluing themselves to the wall beneath the artwork, one of the gallery’s most important treasures. Les Meules and Sunflowers were also behind glass.

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

To cries of “Shame on you!”, “Obscene”, “Stupid” and “Get away from there” from visitors to the gallery, he said the painting was “protected by glass and is just fine”, but that “the future of our children” was not. The Hague police said three people had been arrested for “public violence against goods”.

The Mauritshuis is home to numerous works by Dutch masters including Girl with a Pearl Earring, considered its greatest treasure, and Rembrandt’s The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicolaes Tulp.

A spokesperson for the museum, René Timmermans, told the AD newspaper on Wednesday that it was as well prepared as it could be for such incidents. “Internally, there has been lots of consultation about what extra measures we can take,” he said.

Timmermans declined to say what those measures might be but said that while visitors were allowed to carry only “a small handbag” into the museum, searching them would be going too far. “You can never 100% prevent protest actions,” he said.


Jon Henley Europe correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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