Climate activists hurl pea soup at Van Gogh painting in Rome

A group of activists on Friday threw pea soup at a Vincent Van Gogh masterpiece in Rome, in a protest that they warned will continue until more attention is paid to climate change.

Van Gogh
Activists from Italy's environmental group Last Generation threw soup at Van Gogh's 'The Sower' on Friday. Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP

Activists from Italian environmental group Last Generation threw pea soup at 1888 masterpiece ‘The Sower’, displayed at Rome’s Palazzo Bonaparte.

‘The Sower’, depicting a farmer sowing his land under a dominating sun, was exhibited behind glass and remained undamaged, according to news reports.

All four individuals involved in the attack were arrested.

Climate activists from Last Generation said the demonstration was “a desperate and scientifically grounded cry that cannot be understood as mere vandalism”.

READ ALSO: Why are protesters glueing themselves to Italian artworks?

“Non-violent direct action will continue until citizens get answers from their government on the demands to stop gas and coal and to invest in at least 20 GW of renewables,” they added.

A series of attacks by Last Generation and other environmental groups have involved throwing soup, cake or mashed potatoes at prestigious paintings by artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Claude Monet, Vermeer and Van Gogh.

In October, the group Just Stop Oil threw tomato soup over Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’ at London’s National Gallery. That painting, also protected by glass, was undamaged.

“Everything that we would have the right to see in our present and our future is being obscured by a real and imminent catastrophe, just as this pea puree has covered the work in the fields…” Last Generation said in its statement on Friday.

Italy’s culture minister, Gennaro Sangiuliano, promptly denounced the protest, calling it an “ignoble act that must be strongly condemned”.

“Culture, which is the basis of our identity, should be defended and protected, certainly not used as a megaphone for other forms of protest,” Sangiuliano said in a statement.

‘The Sower’ is on show at Rome’s Palazzo Bonaparte and is part of an exhibition of 50 paintings by the Dutch master on loan from the Kroller Muller museum in Otterlo.

The exhibition organisers, Arthemisia, did not immediately respond to a request for more information on the attack.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


‘Winter is starting’: Italy braces for snow and storms as cold snap arrives

Northern Italy woke to freezing temperatures on Friday while Vesuvius was dusted with snow as long-delayed winter weather arrived in Italy.

‘Winter is starting’: Italy braces for snow and storms as cold snap arrives

A cold front arriving from northern Europe brought temperatures as low as minus 18 degrees Celsius in the eastern Alps in the early hours of Friday, while minus 14 was recorded in Garfagnana, and minus 5 in Milan, Turin and inland Sicily.

Snow also fell at higher altitudes in the south overnight, with local residents capturing images of Vesuvius covered in a dusting of snow.

“Winter is starting,” Claudio Cassardo, climatologist at the University of Turin, told newspaper La Repubblica on Friday.

“We will return to normal seasonal temperatures. However, we’re no longer used to the cold and snow”.

While the north in particular shivers in freezing temperatures and snow was forecast for many areas, including at lower altitudes, central and southern regions were warned to expect heavy rain and stormy conditions from Friday and into the weekend.

Italy’s Department for Civil Protection issued a lower-level alert for storms on Friday in parts of five southern Italian regions, including Basilicata and Calabria, and a medium-level amber alert for Campania, where the agency warned of a risk of hailstones and flash floods.

Showers, strong winds and thunderstorms are expected to spread further across the centre-south and to the Adriatic coast by Saturday, when temperatures are again forecast to drop below zero in inland parts of the centre and north.

Weather website Meteo3B predicted temperatures would drop to 0-1 C across much of the north overnight and in the early morning on Saturday.

Forecasts showed the mildest temperatures in the coming days would be in the southeastern region of Puglia and along the southern coasts of Sicily and Calabria, where a steady 8-10 degrees Celsius is expected over the weekend.