2 activists in France hurl soup at Mona Lisa portrait

The painting appeared to be undamaged.

Amber Tay | January 29, 2024, 03:28 PM



Two environmentalist protestors threw soup at Leonardo Da Vinci's 'Mona Lisa' at The Louvre in Paris, France to call for the right to "healthy and sustainable food" at 10am (5pm Singapore time) on Jan. 28.

The painting, which is protected by bulletproof glass, appeared to be undamaged.

What happened

Videos posted on social media platforms X and TikTok show two women throwing what looked like yellow-coloured soup onto the painting before climbing under the barrier to stand in front of the painting.

@noticiastelemundo Dos activistas arrojaron sopa enlatada a la ‘Mona Lisa’, el famoso cuadro de Leonardo da Vinci, expuesto en el museo del #Louvre, en París. Una de las mujeres que vandalizó la pintura llevaba una camiseta con el texto “Riposte Alimentaire”, un grupo activista de sostenibilidad alimentaria en Francia, cuyo nombre significa “respuesta alimentaria”. En un comunicado a NBC News el personal del museo dijo que no se produjeron daños a la pintura, que ha estado protegida bajo un vidrio blindado desde 2005. #monalisa #davinci ♬ original sound - Noticias Telemundo

Gasps can be heard from the crowd.

The activists took off their coats to reveal t-shirts with the words 'Riposte Alimentaire' (translated from French as Food Response), an organisation that advocates for climate change and sustainable agriculture.

"What’s the most important thing?” They shouted, holding their right hand in an oath-like gesture. "Art, or right to healthy and sustainable food?”

“Our farming system is sick. Our farmers are dying at work,” they continued.

Staff members at The Louvre brought grey-clothed screens to attempt to hide the damage and the protestors.

The Guardian reported that the Paris police arrested two people following the incident.

A statement sent to AFP said the soup throwing is a “start of a campaign of civil resistance with the clear demand … of the social security of sustainable food”.

On Riposte Alimentaire's website, they said they are advocating for a need to guarantee the food needs of the population, respect planetary limits, and ensure a dignified life for French farmers.

They also called for residents to have access to food cards topped up with an amount of 150 euros (approximately S$200) each month to purchase approved and democratically selected products.

The move comes after farmers across France began protesting since Jan. 18 to call for the government to cut regulations and taxes, as well as ensure better prices for produce.

Similar past cases

Riposte Alimentaire is part of the A22 umbrella movement of protest groups, which operate in 12 countries and includes Just Stop Oil.

Activists from Just Stop Oil made headlines on Oct. 14, 2022, after they also soup at Vincent Van Gogh’s 'Sunflowers' at the National Gallery in London.

A custard pie had also been thrown at the Mona Lisa painting in May 2022, where the man who threw it said artists were not focusing enough on “the planet”.

The Mona Lisa has had a protective glass casing since the early 1950s, after it was damaged by a visitor.

A more transparent form of bulletproof glass was installed by the museum in 2019.

Top image via Riposte Alimentaire/X