|Delacroix's "Liberty Leading the People" (1830) at the|
Both The Guardian and the Agence France-Press speculate the message refers to the organization Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, a group calling for an independent investigation into the 9/11 attacks. The painting may have been targeted because of its revolutionary iconography.
The graffiti, measuring only 30 centimeters, was removed the next day. The restoration took two hours and the painting remained hanging on the wall.
The museum is pressing charges against the woman, who was immediately apprehended by museum guards. The police are awaiting a psychological investigation into the woman's mental health and report that she appears "unstable." Phillipe Peyroux, the local prosecutor, told the Agence France-Press, "Is this a person who acted under the influence of some kind of frenzy or is it some kind of demand? We are waiting until we are able to find out a little more about this person."
The case resembles the vandalism of Mark Rothko's "Black on Maroon" at the Tate Modern in October 2012. Vladimir Umanets, who was sentenced to two years in prison this December, defaced the painting to promote his radical art movement. For our report visit: Rothko Defaced at the Tate Modern.
Sources: Kim Willsher, "Delacroix Painting at Lens Louvre Gallery Defaced with Permanent Marker," The Guardian, February 8, 2013; Kate Diemling, "Vandalism of 'Liberty Leading the People' May be Linked 9/11 Truth Movement," Artinfo, February 8, 2013. Image source: Agence Frence-Press.