One of the most iconic symbols of the French Revolution, Eugène Delacroix’s 1830 “Liberty Leading the People”, was defaced on Thursday by a 28-year-old woman with a black marker at the Louvre’s branch in the northern city of Lens.
The famous work shows a bare-chested female figure bearing aloft the French Tricolor with one hand and a musket in the other.
"The integrity of the work has not been affected, as the inscription was superficial and remained on the varnished surface without reaching the layer of paint," a Louvre spokesperson said in a statement on Friday, amid fears that a piece of France’s national heritage had been permanently defaced. Specialists have since removed the mark, which measured approximately 30 centimetres (12 inches).
A restoration expert will be sent from the Louvre in Paris to examine the painting, and the museum said in a statement reported by the BBC that the graffiti may be “easily cleaned.”
The painting was immortalized after it was featured on 100-franc bank notes from 1978 to 1995.
At present, her motive is unknown.
According to judicial sources, the woman scrawled “AE911” on the canvas using an indelible black marker.
On Friday morning, French media were speculating that the graffiti could be a reference to the “Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth” group, which believes that the 2001 collapse of the World Trade Center could not have resulted solely from the impact of two fuel-heavy airliners.
AE911 has a website and an online petition calling for Congress to conduct a “truly independent investigation” into 9/11, but at the moment — perhaps because of the news reports about the Louvre painting — the site appears to be down.
“We won’t know if there is any political significance until police questioning ends,” the museum’s Communications Director Raphäel Wolff told FRANCE 24 on Friday morning.
“She is still under arrest and the state prosecutor is here at the museum investigating this,” he added.
The vandal is due to appear before a judge on Saturday, and prosecutors have ordered that she undergo a psychiatric evaluation.
Other acts of art vandalism: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/features/four-positive-acts-of-art-vandalism-8487755.html