Protestors Fling Soup at the Mona Lisa in Paris

"What is more important? Art or the right to healthy food?" the protestors demanded.

Two environmental activists from the collective "Riposte Alimentaire" hurled soup at Leonardo Da Vinci's Mona Lisa at the Louvre museum in Paris on January 28, 2024. Photo: DAVID CANTINIAUX/AFPTV/AFP via Getty Images.

Two protestors from the French environmental group Riposte Alimentaire (Food Counterattack) hurled pumpkin soup at the Mona Lisa at the Louvre in Paris on Sunday morning. The painting, which is routinely ranked as the most famous in the world, hangs behind a bulletproof protective glass case and was undamaged by the attack.

After the pair threw the soup, at around 10 a.m. local time, they stood in front of the painting to declare their intent. “What is more important?,” they shouted. “Art or the right to healthy and sustainable food?”

“Our agriculture system is sick,” they added. “Our farmers are dying at work.”

The Louvre’s security team rushed to conceal the protestors behind black screens and the Salle des Etats, the room in which the Mona Lisa hangs, was swiftly evacuated so that the painting’s protective glass could be cleaned. The gallery was reopened to the public at 11:30 a.m.


“The Mona Lisa, like our heritage, belongs to future generations,” wrote France’s culture minister Rachida Dati on X (formerly Twitter). “No cause can justify it being targeted!”

Riposte Alimentaire is an environmental group specifically focused on the rising cost of food, better working conditions and rights for farmers, and a more sustainable agricultural system. The two protestors have been identified as Sasha, aged 24, and Marie-Juliette, aged 63.

The attack on the Mona Lisa is part of a recent surge of protests that have been taking place in the French capital. Farmers have been blocking major roads into the city in order to draw attention to their plight of low pay, increased bureaucracy, and the rising cost of fuel. French authorities are gearing up for a big protest in Paris today, with some 15,000 police officers deployed at airports and the Rungis International Market.

This is not the first time that the Mona Lisa has been targeted. In 2022, another climate protestor smeared cake over the glass and exclaimed “all artists think of the earth, that’s why I did this,” as he was escorted away by security. That year there was a wave of attacks on art across the globe in the name of climate activism, but these became less frequent in 2023.

Leonardo da Vinci’s great masterpiece has been behind protective glass since the 1950s, after a thief attempted to cut it from its frame. In 1956, it was, nonetheless, assaulted twice. In the first instance, a vandal threw acid at the painting while it was unprotected on temporary loan to an exhibition in Montauban. Some months later, another man threw a rock at the Mona Lisa with enough force to smash the glass case and remove a small amount of pigment.

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