Tuesday 23 January 2018

Monet damaged in gallery attack

Fergus Black

A VALUABLE painting by Monet was seriously damaged by a member of the public at the National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin yesterday.

Gardai investigating the damage caused to the 1874 work, 'Argenteuil Basin With A Single Sailboat', arrested a man in his 40s last night.

The painting, which was bequeathed to the gallery in 1924, had been hanging in the Millennium wing and is the only Monet in its collection.

Gallery director Sean Rainbird described it as a "shocking and very regrettable incident".

It is understood the canvas was badly holed in the incident shortly before noon yesterday.

Because it belongs to the state collection, the gallery said it could not put a value on the work. But only last week, a similar-sized Monet painting, 'Le Chantier de Petits Navires, Pres de Honfleur', from 1864, sold at auction in Christie's in London for €3.4m.

In New York in 2010, Monet's 'Le Pont du Chemin de Fer à Argenteuil' was sold by Christie's for more than $41m (€32m).

A man in his 40s was taken to St James's Hospital after the incident and was later arrested and taken to Pearse Street garda station under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act. He can be held for up to 24 hours.

A spokesman said gardai were investigating criminal damage to the painting.

CCTV footage will be examined as part of the investigation and last night gardai asked anyone who visited the gallery yesterday morning to contact them.

The gallery said the matter was now with the garda authorities.

"The painting was hanging as part of the European Masters collection in the Millennium wing," said a spokeswoman.

The damaged Monet is one of hundreds of work of art on display at the gallery and, despite yesterday's incident, the spokeswoman said they were all still open to the public.

Lessons

The gallery would investigate what had occurred to see what lessons could be learned for the future without impeding the public's access to works of art, she said.

Monet, who was born in Paris in 1840, painted hundreds of masterpieces during his long career and his works are dotted around museums and galleries all over the world.

The National Gallery's conservation department will now begin the task of assessing the damage and may consult Monet experts in other museums and galleries.

Irish Independent

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