Environmental protesters on Friday threw tomato soup over Vincent van Gogh's Sunflowers painting at the National Gallery in central London, videos posted on social media showed.
London's Metropolitan Police said its officers arrested two protesters from the Just Stop Oil group for criminal damage and aggravated trespass after they "threw a substance over a painting" at the gallery on Trafalgar Square.
Two protesters wearing T-shirts with the slogan "Just Stop Oil" lobbed cans of soup at the iconic painting, a video posted on Twitter by the Guardian newspaper's environment correspondent Damien Gayle and retweeted by the eco-activism group showed.
After gluing themselves to the wall, one of the activists shouts: "What is worth more, art or life?"
"Are you more concerned about the protection of a painting or the protection of our planet and people?" she asks.
In the video, someone can be heard yelling "oh my God" as the soup hits the canvas, and another person shouts "security?" while soup drips from the frame onto the floor.
Activists vandalise Vincent van Gogh’s Sunflowers at the National Gallery.— Andrew Doyle (@andrewdoyle_com) October 14, 2022
The vandalism or destruction of art is always an authoritarian act.
But more than that - it represents a repudiation of civilisation and the achievements of humanity.pic.twitter.com/8gLTjekvIt
Just Stop Oil said in a statement that its activists threw two cans of Heinz Tomato soup over the painting at 11:00 am (1000 GMT) to demand that the UK government halt all new oil and gas projects.
It said the painting has an estimated value of $84.2 million.
It was not immediately clear whether the painting is protected by glass.