French police were holding a mentally “unbalanced” woman after an attack on one of France’s most iconic paintings, Eugene Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People.
The incident happened at the recently opened northern satellite of the Louvre museum in Lens, northern France, when a visitor scrawled on the painting with a black marker. It was not believed to have caused any permanent damage.
Prosecutors in the town said that after having received a psychiatric report on the 28-year-old woman, they would probably have her committed yesterday.
The attack happened on Thursday evening, just before the 6pm closing time. A security guard apprehended the woman with the help of a visitor to the museum.
The attacker scrawled “AE911” on the painting.
Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth (AE911Truth) is a US group that supports a conspiracy theory that New York’s World Trade Center collapsed as the result of a controlled demolition after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
“We are leaning towards hospitalizing her immediately in a psychiatric facility given that the psychiatrist appointed by the prosecutors concluded that she is not criminally responsible,” local prosecutor Philippe Peyroux said.
The Louvre said specialists had already been able to completely remove the approximately 30cm mark on the bottom right of the painting.
“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,” the museum said in a statement.
In the US, the founder of the AE911Truth group, Richard Gage, said: “I was shocked and horrified to learn of this senseless act of vandalism.
“I sincerely hope that this unbalanced person is not in any way associated with our numerous volunteers in France,” he said.
The painting by Delacroix commemorates France’s July Revolution of 1830. It shows a bare-breasted woman personifying Liberty leading the people forward over the bodies of the fallen, holding the French tricolor in one hand and a bayoneted musket in the other.
The wing housing the painting was closed on Friday, but was expected to reopen yesterday.