A woman defaced Eugene Delacroix’s iconic painting “Liberty Leading the People” with a black marker and a cryptic message in France this week.
Police arrested a 28-year-old woman Thursday for writing “AE911” across the bottom of a work that once graced the 100-franc note and postage stamps.
“AE911Truth” is the name of a website called “Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth” which seeks to “establish the truth: of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Painted in 1830, the famous art was on loan from the main Louvre in Paris to the new Louvre-Lens gallery in northern France inaugurated in 2012.
“It had really become an icon, a sort of symbol of the Republic which has remained famous throughout the ages,” said Vincent Pomarede, head of the Louvre’s painting department.
“We have a very passionate relationship with all our paintings and when something like this happens it’s really hard to handle,” he said.
Delacroix’s “Liberty Leading the People” was painted after the 1830 July Revolution as a symbol of reconciliation following the overthrow of Bourbon King Charles X.
The work, depicting a bare-breasted woman brandishing a tricolor flag and leading her people over the bodies of the fallen, was later adopted as a revolutionary emblem.
It subsequently disappeared from public view before resurfacing in the Louvre in 1871, after which its place in the French national consciousness was cemented.
The Louvre said Friday that it managed to save the painting as the black marker had not penetrated the upper layer of varnish and has been successfully removed.
It is unclear why the painting was defaced.