Ketchup poured over Vermeer’s ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’

The Dutch artist’s masterpiece Johannes Vermeer, The girl of the pearlhas been the protagonist of the new episode of the wave of ecovandalism that in recent weeks is baiting the art world. A climate activist has stuck his head to the glass that covers the famous painting, exhibited in the Mauritshuis gallery, in The Hague, while a second person, who has also adhered his hand to the protective glass, I threw tomato sauce at him overhead.

At least three people have been arrested for artistic aggression, as reported by the Dutch museum. The two subjects who have attacked Vermeer’s 1665 work, which is considered one of the ten most famous paintings in the world and has not suffered damagethey wore t-shirts of the British collective Just Stop Oila group of activists who, in order to raise awareness about global warming, are vandalizing some of the most iconic paintings in art, such as The sunflowers of Van Gogh. The environmental movement has already thrown tomato puree or sauce on canvases by Monet, Sandro Botticelli, Picasso or Rubens.

“How does it feel to see something so beautiful and valuable being seemingly torn apart before your eyes? We feel outraged. This painting is protected by glass. That’s fine, but vulnerable people around the planet are not protected. The future of our children is not protected. People in extreme poverty have to choose between heating or eating, and they are not protected”, exclaimed one of the protagonists in a video shared on social networks. “art is helpless and the Mauritshuis gallery firmly rejects any attempt to damage it for any reason,” the gallery said in a statement.

The small room, with a capacity for around thirty visitors, where the painting by the Golden Age painter and also author of the View of Delfthas been closed whilemeanwhile Police carry out the investigation. Those arrested are accused of “open attack on artistic goods”. The girl of the pearlalso known as the girl with turban wave Dutch Mona Lisais a relatively small (44 x 39 centimeters) but mesmerizing portrait of an unknown woman, possibly an imaginary figure.

The girl of the pearlbrought to literature by Tracy Chevalier and to the movies for peter webber with Scarlett Johansson, made a world tour of the United States, Japan and Italy during the two years that the Mauritshuis Museum was closed for renovations and was admired by 2.2 million people. Upon her return in 2014, an original and symbolic ceremony was organized in the main courtyard, presided over by King William of the Netherlands.

[Alerta en los museos españoles: las obras de arte se blindan ante los ataques del ecologismo]

In 2020, the conservators of the Dutch center published a study on the painting that revealed that the young woman was painted in front of a lost green curtain, as well as changes in the ear during the composition of the scene. The Mauritshuis gallery will give the work to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam for the largest retrospective dedicated to the artistwhich will open on February 10, 2023. It will undoubtedly be one of the main attractions.

With a very small production —Vermeer only painted 34 recognized works—, his presence on the market has also been scarce, since most of his works have always been in the possession of museums. In 2014 one of only two paintings in private hands, Saint Praxedis, was sold at Christie’s London for 7.8 million euros. Dated in 1655, it would be the oldest painting by the artist; previously, in 2004, the small oil painting by the Dutch master, Girl sitting before the virginal (1670) sold at Sotheby’s London for €21.7 million.

'The girl with the pearl', exhibited in the gallery of The Hague.

‘The girl with the pearl’, exhibited in the gallery of The Hague.

Arthur Edwards


This is the first attack by environmentalists on a museum in the Netherlands. However, andhe Last Tuesday, an activist, Jelle de Graaf, he adhered live to the table of a television set to “talk about the climate and ecological crisis”, during a program to which he was invited to discuss new methods to draw attention to global warming.

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