At around 2 o’clock in the afternoon on Oct. 27, 2022, evil spirits entered the Mauritshuis art museum located in the Hague, Netherlands. Three eco-vandals came to the museum to assail one of the world’s most beloved paintings, Girl with a Pearl Earring by the Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675).
Two of the vandals wore white T-shirts emblazoned with the words Just Stop Oil. One superglued his shaved-head to the painting, while the other poured a can of tomato soup over him. The third eco-extremist involved in the attack video-taped the anti-art stunt. The man holding the soup can glued his left hand to the wall supporting the painting, before launching into an apocalyptic diatribe:
“How do you feel when you see something beautiful and priceless being apparently destroyed before your eyes? Do you feel outraged? Good. Where is that feeling when you see the planet being destroyed before our very eyes?”
Horrified and shocked, museum goers interrupted the zealot, yelling at him: “Shut up!” “Get away from there,” “Obscene,” “You’re stupid!” and “Shame on you!” Tomato soup boy attempted to justify his idiocy by snapping back at the crowd:
“This painting is protected by glass, it’s just fine. The future of our children are not protected. People in fuel poverty who need to choose between heat and eating are not protected.”
Museum security moved in, but they seemed to be protecting the vandals from the irate crowd. Finally the Hague police arrived, unglued the vandal stuck to the Vermeer and the offender glued to the wall, then arrested all three hooligans for “public violence against goods.” Despite acting like spoiled adolescent children, all three yobs were Belgian “men” in their 40s.
In the immediate wake of the offense the museum released a short statement: “Art is defenseless and the Mauritshuis strongly rejects trying to damage it for whatever purpose. The police were notified and three people have been arrested. The condition of the painting was inspected by our restorer. Fortunately, the glass-covered masterwork was not damaged.”
The New York Times reported that a spokeswoman for Just Stop Oil denied organizing the attack, but stressed: “We applaud those ordinary everyday people who refuse to stand by, who step up to act. Ending new oil and gas, our demand is supported across the world. If we don’t stop the harm caused by burning fossil fuels there will be no one to look at the masterpieces.”
Except… “ordinary everyday people” do not raid art museums to superglue their heads to masterpiece paintings. It doesn’t matter if the eco-extremists of Just Stop Oil take credit for these foolish ill-conceived actions or not. They initiated this wave of irresponsible “propaganda of the deed” actions, and they are wholly responsible for them. They have succeeded in turning themselves into pariahs.
The mainstream media and the art press refer to these people as “climate activists.” They are nothing of the kind, they are extremist vandals. Just Stop Oil and their ilk have nothing but contempt for the great historic artists of the West and their magnificent contributions to our common heritage.
When I watched that man glueing his head to Vermeer’s masterpiece, I was watching the fall of the West. They mock, trivialize, and degrade the greatest that society has produced; they are barbarians, and they have breached the walls of civilization.
In the Girl with a Pearl Earring Vermeer painted a portrait of an anonymous young woman. While he signed the canvas “IVMeer” he did not date it, however the painting is believed to have been painted around 1665. The identity of the exquisite beauty depicted remains a mystery to this day, but her visage is known and beloved around the world.
I first saw Girl with a Pearl Earring as a framed reproduction, it was hung in the family home when I was a small child. I was so young I couldn’t even read, but the eyes of that enigmatic femme grabbed me nevertheless. You could say I grew up with Vermeer as two other reproductions of his work hung in the home; The Milkmaid and The Lacemaker.
As a pre-teen I began to study Johannes Vermeer and started to comprehend his importance and influence. What those degenerate men did to Vermeer’s Girl in the museum was like a knife in my heart. I cannot forgive them.
Little is known about Vermeer, who painted only a few works and died poor, leaving his wife and children in debt. Today only 34 paintings have been attributed to him by experts, but the handful of works are breathtaking.
Vermeer had no formal training in art. It’s not known if he studied or apprenticed with anyone; leaving it more than likely that he was self-taught. He never instructed students or acted as an art mentor. He left no studies, sketches, or drawings. He is believed to have painted less than 50 paintings, of those 34 survived and have been credited to him.
Vermeer died at age 43, and his works slipped into obscurity. At long last in 1866, the French critic and painter Étiene-Joseph-Théophile wrote effusive praise regarding Vermeer. Suddenly the Dutch painter lived again in the public imagination.
The Mauritshuis holds the world’s biggest collection of Dutch Golden Age oil paintings from the 17th-Century, featuring master artists like Johannes Vermeer, Rembrandt van Rijn, Peter Paul Rubens, Frans Hals, Anthony van Dyck, Hans Holbein the Younger, and many other painters of the day.
It’s abhorrent that a gang of miscreant eco-extremists would use this museum, its collection, and a masterwork of Johannes Vermeer, to pull off an intolerable and abhorrent stunt.
UPDATE: On Nov. 2, 2022, two of the three eco-extremists involved in vandalizing the Girl with a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer, were found guilty of destruction and open violence against the painting. A Dutch court sentenced them to two months in prison. However, one month was suspended from their sentencing. The public prosecutor asked that the vandals get four months, but the judge said… get this, she did not want the sentence to discourage others from protesting. The third vandal was scheduled to appear in a Nov. 4, 2022 court trial; no word on his sentencing. All three were confirmed members of Just Stop Oil Belgium, which is separate from the parent UK group, Just Stop Oil.