Protesters throw tomato soup at Vincent Van Gogh’s sunflowers

On Friday, people protesting against fossil fuels threw soup on “Sunflowers”, a famous painting by Vincent van Gogh from 1888. They did this at the National Gallery in London.

Two young women from the group Just Stop Oil threw the contents of two cans of Heinz tomato soup at a painting the group said was worth $84.2 million. They were then stuck to the wall below the picture with glue.

The National Gallery confirmed that something had happened in room 43, where “Sunflowers” was on display, and gave an update on its condition in a tweet.

“There is slight damage to the frame, but the painting is intact” it said. In a later tweet, the gallery said the painting was protected because it was glazed.

London’s Metropolitan Police confirmed it was responding to the situation and that the protesters had been arrested on suspicion of “criminal damage and aggravated assault”.

Friday’s protest is the latest in a long line of actions taken against famous works of art to draw attention to the role fossil fuels play in climate change. At the Royal Academy of Arts in London in July, members of the band Just Stop Oil glued themselves to a copy of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper.

In the same month, members of the group glued themselves to a painting in the National Gallery, and members of an Italian climate activist group did the same to Botticelli’s Primavera in Florence.

Protesters throw tomato soup at Vincent Van Gogh's sunflowers
Protesters throw tomato soup at Vincent Van Gogh’s sunflowers

On Sunday, climate activists from Extinction Rebellion were arrested at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne for holding up Picasso’s Massacre in Korea.

In a statement, Just Stop Oil said their action on Friday was timed “to coincide with the planned launch of a new round of oil and gas licensing” in the UK.

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