Video: Activists attack Girl with a Pearl Earring at Hague museum; 3 arrested
Three climate activists were arrested at the Mauritshuis in The Hague when they attempted to deface the famous Johannes Vermeer painting, The Girl with a Pearl Earring. The three were arrested for "public violence against property," police said on Thursday afternoon.
The museum told NL Times that one person glued their head to the glass-covered painting at about 2 p.m., while another glued his hand to the wall next to it. The painting was not damaged as a result of the protest action. "The condition of the painting has been examined by our restorers. Fortunately, the masterpiece, behind glass, was not damaged," the museum stated. The painting will be placed back in the gallery as soon as possible, but the space will be temporarily closed to the public.
Video from the protest in The Hague showed one person appear to glue his head to the painting, while another dumped a can of tomato soup on him. "How do you feel when you see something beautiful and priceless being apparently destroyed before your eyes? Do you feel outraged?" one of the protesters asked after gluing his hand to the wall next to the painting. "Where is that feeling when you see the planet being destroyed before your very eyes."
The activists were wearing t-shirts stating "Just Stop Oil," the group behind prior fossil fuel protests, including an incident where demonstrators flung the contents of a can of tomato soup at a Van Gogh painting in London. Just Stop Oil did not immediately take credit for the incident at the Mauritshuis on its social media channels or its website.
"Art is defenseless, and the Mauritshuis strongly rejects trying to damage it for whatever purpose," the museum stated.
Despite many works of art being protected by either a special type of museum quality glass, earlier this week the Dutch Museum Association raised concerns about climate protestors after demonstrators also tried to deface a Monet painting at the Barberini Museum in Potsdam, Germany. That artwork was smeared with mashed potatoes.
"We understand the climate activists. They advocate for the preservation of nature. But we are in favor of preserving our cultural heritage. Unfortunately, these actions affect works of art,” the Mauritshuis said in a statement before the incident involving The Girl with a Pearl Earring.
The painting is among the most recognizable in the Netherlands, and has become a cultural icon. Vermeer completed the work in about 1665 during the Dutch Golden Age. It was acquired two centuries later by Dutch military officer and genealogist Arnoldus Andries des Tombe. It was bequeathed to the Mauritshuis in 1902.
"People travel to The Hague from all over the world to see Johannes Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring in real life. Or dream of coming here. But why is she so famous? We don’t know why exactly," the Mauritshuis wrote in a recent post on Instagram.