This is the moment an Italian security guard tears protestors’ hands off a priceless Botticelli painting at a Florence art gallery – in stark contrast to guards at London’s National Gallery, who simply watched on when eco-zealots did the same.
The out-of-patience security official stormed over to the young pair and pulled their superglued hands from the Renaissance masterpiece shortly after they began their short-lived protest in the Uffizi Gallery on Friday morning.
It struck a jarring contrast to the inaction shown by British guards at the Trafalgar Square gallery this month, where Just Stop Oil zealots were allowed to cover over John Constable’s The Hay Wain with their own version.
More than an hour later, Brighton students Hannah Hunt, 23, and Eben Lazarus, 22, were finally arrested.
Yesterday’s protest in northern Italy was perpetrated by an unnamed man and two women from climate activist group Ultima Generazione (‘Last Generation’).
They rolled out a banner which read: ‘Last Generation No Gas No Coal’.
The activists, who had paid for tickets to get into the gallery, were removed from the gallery by police.
Luckily, no damage was caused to the artwork due to the ‘special protections in place’.
A statement from the gallery read: ‘If there had not been the special protections decided for the main masterpieces of the museum a few years ago by the management, today we would have had an important damage to the work, as happened recently in other museums.’
However the group posted a statement to their website explaining they make sure they take ‘great care’ and research artwork to not cause damage.
They wrote: ‘We have taken great care in order not to cause any damage to Botticelli’s Primavera. Neither the frame nor the glass that protects the canvas was exposed to a risk.
‘To make sure, we consulted restorers who advised us to use a glue suitable for glass and frames. It is important for us to value art, rather than damage it, as our governments do with the only planet at our disposal.’
The protest comes after Just Stop Oil activists provoked fury earlier this month when they carried out a protest at the National Gallery by covering John Constable’s The Hay Wain with their own version featuring double yellow lines, pollution and a washing machine.
Two students who are eco demonstrators covered the world-famous painting in London with a mock ‘undated’ version including aircraft, before gluing their hands to the frame in a protest against UK oil and gas projects on 4 July.
The group said their reimagined version of the 1821 priceless work, which depicts a rural scene on the River Stour in Suffolk, shows a ‘nightmare scene that demonstrates how oil will destroy our countryside’.
Art historians and experts have all raised concerns that the vandals, two Brighton university students who have appeared at Just Stop Oil protests before, could have caused irreparable damage to the 19th century masterpiece.
The National Gallery later released a statement clarifying The Hay Wain suffered minor damage to its frame and on the painting’s varnish, both of which have been dealt with before it is re-hung in Gallery Room 34.
Dr Adrian Hilton, who is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, previously said: ‘How is this even possible in the National Gallery? I mean, it’s a John Constable masterpiece; a national treasure. Is it really this easy to paper over or – God forbid – destroy it?’
Just Stop Oil activists have carried out similar protests over the past month at art galleries in Glasgow, Manchester and London – while the group blocked a motorway on Wednesday, causing nine hours of traffic chaos on the M25.
Three eco-activists accused of sparking nine hours of traffic chaos by climbing on to the gantry above the M25 are set for trial after pleading not guilty.
Cressida Gethin, 20, Alexander Wilcox, 21, and Emma Mani, 45, are charged with causing a public nuisance following a Just Stop Oil demonstration on Wednesday morning.
They are accused of forcing the motorway to close in both directions by climbing on an overhead gantry and unfurling banners.
They pleaded not guilty at Ealing Magistrates’ Court in west London on Friday.
The defendants allegedly harnessed themselves to Junctions 14 and 15 on the south-west side in Surrey. The 117-mile M25 encircles London.
Gethin, of Dorstone, Herefordshire; Wilcox, of South Fifth Street, Milton Keynes; and Mani, of High Street, Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, were released on bail.
They will next appear at Inner London Crown Court on August 19.
‘Police were notified that protesters were planning on causing disruption on the M25 and therefore police arrived at the scene,’ said Beata Murphy prosecuting at Ealing magistrates court.
‘The decision was made to stop the traffic on the road because it was simply too dangerous and the protesters kept moving across the gantry.
‘There were lengthy tailbacks in both directions. At Heathrow Airport several flights were unable to take off because the staff were unable to get to work.’
The court was told that in total 26 flights were delayed because of the demonstration by Just Stop Oil at the Poyle Interchange, causing ‘incredible loss to the airlines.’
Ms Murphy added: ‘The protesters had harnesses on for safety and stuck to the gantry.
‘Once police were on top of the gantry, protesters went limp and would not comply putting themselves and officers in danger.’
Defence counsel for Mani, Mr John Briant, said: ‘This is a complex case involving multiple statements and witnesses.
‘I anticipate complex legal arguments and it is totally appropriate to be trialled in the crown court.
‘There are going to be Article 10 and 11 arguments in terms of Human Rights.
‘There will be legal arguments about whether the action amounted to a public nuisance. If it did amount to a public nuisance was there a reasonable excuse.’
He added: ‘There will be arguments about recklessness and arguments about the police and how they reacted and about whether it is proportionate to prosecute.’
The case was sent to the crown court because of its ‘unusual legal complexity.’
In a statement released shortly before the demonstrations, Just Stop Oil said it was ‘declaring the M25 a site of civil resistance’ this week.
Source – Daily Mail