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Self-Portrait with Grey Felt Hat

Vandalism Involving van Gogh’s Paintings

by VanGoghology

T

here will always be someone with a grudge or with an opinion that they feel worthy of violence and vandalism.

These acts of destruction or defacement have targeted some of the most iconic paintings in the world, causing irreparable damage to these cultural treasures. Vandalism of famous paintings not only harms the physical integrity of the artwork but also diminishes its historical and artistic value.

More recently, the ‘Just Stop Oil’ protesters have been airing grievances, driven by their environmental concerns. The motivation for “What is worth more, art or life?” stems from a desire to reduce greenhouse gases, protect ecosystems, and mitigate the long-term consequences of climate change. 

In October 2022, two of these protesters thought it was a good idea to throw cans of tomato soup on Vincent’s sunflowers at the National Gallery in London, based on a protest about fossil fuel extraction. – Minor damage was caused to the frame, and the painting itself was protected with glass.

I have three main issues with the vandalism of sunflowers:

  1. Vincent loved nature and might well have joined them in their quest to protect the planet, outside of violence.
  2. I asked them if they were vegan and received no response. Let’s face it, if you’re going to deface art in the name of climate change and sustainable energy, you’d better be walking the walk.
  3. It was a van Gogh painting.

Efforts to restore vandalized paintings are often complex and costly, requiring specialized expertise and resources. To maintain the integrity of the original artwork, art conservationists tirelessly work to repair vandalism-related damage.

Lullaby Augustine Roulin5 copy minOn April 5, 1978, a 31-year-old Dutchman slashed three long incisions through Vincent’s Portrait La Berceuse (Augustine Roulin) at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. 

The unnamed assailant was disgruntled with the Amsterdam government after they refused to approve his welfare benefits, which were supporting his own artistic endeavors.

Museum officials, who valued the painting at $425,000, noted that the three cuts were significant in size, the longest being 16 inches and the other two being 12 inches. 

Vandalism of Self-Portrait with Grey Felt Hat

Self Portrait with Grey Felt Hat vandalism 1978
Self Portrait with Grey Felt Hat min

Less than three weeks later, on April 24, a visitor to the Van Gogh Museum took out a pocketknife and slashed two long diagonal slashes across Self-Portrait with Grey Felt Hat. 

A select group of experts was convened to provide guidance on the restoration of the painting. Luitsen Kuiper, the principal restorer at the Rijksmuseum, subsequently executed the recommended treatment. At that time, the Van Gogh Museum lacked a dedicated conservation laboratory.

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