Two women have been charged with criminal damage after climate change protesters threw tomato soup over Van Gogh’s famous Sunflowers painting at the National Gallery.
Footage posted by the Just Stop Oil campaign group showed activists opening two Heinz tins and then throwing the contents over the 1888 work on Friday morning, before kneeling down in front of the masterpiece and gluing their hands to the wall beneath it.
The gallery said the incident had caused minor damage to the frame but the image, which is covered by glass, was unharmed.
The painting, which has an estimated value of £72.5m, later went back on display.
Painted in Arles in the south of France, the picture shows fifteen sunflowers standing in a yellow pot against a yellow background.
Police said two women, aged 21 and 20, would appear on Saturday at Westminster Magistrates’ Court charged with “criminal damage to the frame of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers painting”.
Another activist will also appear in court accused of damaging the sign outside the New Scotland Yard police headquarters in central London.
Sunflowers is the second, more famous, Van Gogh painting to be targeted by the group, with two climate activists gluing themselves to his 1889 Peach Trees in Blossom, exhibited at the Courtauld Gallery, at the end of June.
The work was also the second from the National Gallery to be selected as a target for action by the protest group, with two supporters gluing themselves to John Constable’s The Hay Wain in July.
Activists have also targeted a landscape painting by Horatio McCulloch, My Heart’s In The Highlands, in Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, as well as a 500-year-old copy of Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Summer in London’s Royal Academy.
Just Stop Oil has been holding protests for the last two weeks as part of a campaign of “continuous disruption”, which has also seen demonstrators block several key roads in London.
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