Woman attacks Mona Lisa
Date: 16 Aug 2009 | | Views: 5740
A Russian tourist sparked a security alert when she threw a mug at the Mona Lisa, the world's best-known painting, officials at Louvre Museum in Paris have revealed.
Screams erupted from the 40-odd tourists jostling for position around Leonardo da Vinci's enigmatic painted lady when the empty terracotta mug flew over their heads and smashed into the portrait.
The Russian woman is thought to have bought it minutes earlier at the museum gift shop.
However, the Mona Lisa's enigmatic smile was unaffected by the commotion, as the mug bounced harmlessly off the bullet-proof glass shielding her and shattered on the floor, according to the team of staff paid to guard her.
"There was no damage done to the painting whatsoever," a museum official told Le Parisien.
"Naturally the Mona Lisa is a carefully watched and protected painting. It is kept in a special sealed box to protect it from vibrations, heat and humidity. It is protected by thick glass resistant to bullets and any other object hurled at it," he said.
The woman was seized by two museum security guards and handed over to central Paris police after the incident on August 2.
The remaining tourists were then left in peace to gaze at the work, viewed by 8.5 million people each year.
The Russian is being held in custody and has reportedly undergone a psychological examination.
Doctors were trying to assess whether she was suffering from Stendhal Syndrome, a rare condition in which often perfectly sane individuals momentarily lose all reason and attack a work of art.
In July last year, a 32-year-old woman wearing lipstick kissed a painting by the American artist Cy Twombly on display in Avignon, leaving left a large red smudge. She was sentenced to community work.
At the Orsay Museum in Paris the previous year, a man ripped a hole in a painting by impressionist Claude Monet.
The last attack on a work of art at the Louvre was in 1998, when a mathematics professor and calm family man suddenly attacked a statue of the Roman philosopher Seneca with a hammer.
The Mona Lisa is the only painting ever to have been stolen from the Louvre, in 1911, and then recovered.
In 1956, it was damaged when a vandal threw acid over it while it was on display at a museum in Montauban, in France.
The same year, a Bolivian man threw a rock at the painting, damaging paintwork below the Mona Lisa's left elbow.
The painting belongs to the French state.