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France

Delacroix’s iconic ‘Liberty’ intact after vandalism

Text by Tony Todd

Latest update : 2013-02-08

A painting that is the enduring image of the French revolution and adorned the 100-franc note for nearly two decades was vandalised this week at the Louvre-Lens museum, but officials there say it has not sustained any permanent damage.

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).

The painting was immortalised after it was featured on 100-franc bank notes from 1978 to 1995.

Motive 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.

“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.

“Liberty” is the showpiece work at the Louvre-Lens, which opened its doors for the first time on December 4.
 

Date created : 2013-02-08

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