Just Stop Oil protesters smash National Gallery painting

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Just Stop Oil protesters have been arrested after smashing the glass covering a painting on display at the National Gallery.

Two protesters from the environmental activist group entered Room 30 of the London museum on Monday. They struck The Toilet of Venus (The Rokeby Venus) using what appeared to be emergency rescue hammers, or shatter hammers.

The room was cleared and the police were called, where they arrested the two people on suspicion of criminal damage.

The painting, which was created by Spanish artist Diego Velázquez in the mid-17th century, was removed from display and is currently being examined by conservators. Room 30 was reopened just after 12.30pm with A Dead Soldier replacing The Toilet of Venus.

But the artwork has history as a site of political activism. In March 1914, the painting was first slashed by suffragette Mary Richardson using a meat cleaver, following the arrest of Emmeline Pankhurst.

Following the latest incident, Just Stop Oil (JSO) said: “Women did not get the vote by voting, it is time for deeds not words. It is time to Just Stop Oil.

“Politics is failing us. It failed women in 1914 and it is failing us now. New oil and gas will kill millions. If we love art, if we love life, if we love our families we must Just Stop Oil.”

Footage shared on social media showed the pair delivering their speeches, before they were made to sit on the floor where they clasped their hands together.