Climate Activists Hit London's National Gallery

'Just Stop Oil' protesters smash glass protecting Diego Velazquez's 'Toilet of Venus' painting
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 6, 2023 9:45 AM CST
Climate Activists Hit London's National Gallery
On Monday, activists stand by a painting after smashing the protective panel at the National Gallery in London.   (Just Stop Oil via AP)

Two climate change protesters smashed a protective glass panel covering a famous Diego Velazquez oil painting at London's National Gallery, the group Just Stop Oil said Monday. The two activists targeted Velazquez's The Toilet of Venus, also known as The Rokeby Venus, with small hammers. Photos showed the protective glass panel punctured with several holes, reports the AP. Just Stop Oil, which has previously led similar protests targeting famous artworks and public buildings, said Monday's action was to demand Britain's government immediately halt all licensing for the exploration, development, and production of fossil fuels in the UK.

The group said the two activists chose to target the 17th-century oil painting because it was previously slashed as part of the suffragette movement calling for women's rights in 1914. Just Stop Oil said the protesters hammered the glass panel, then told people at the gallery: "Women did not get the vote by voting. It is time for deeds, not words." "Politics is failing us. It failed women in 1914 and it is failing us now," they added. The National Gallery said two people were arrested and the painting has been removed from display so conservators can examine it. "The pair appeared to strike The Toilet of Venus ... by Velazquez with what appeared to be emergency rescue hammers. The room was cleared of visitors and police were called," the museum said in a statement.

(More Just Stop Oil stories.)

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