Vincent Van Gogh’s Sunflowers was one of the more famous paintings of the last couple of centuries, so it is small wonder it has pride of place in the National Gallery in London as one of its most treasured works of art.
Normally it is the picture itself that gets attention, but some may now think more about the picture framing work that not only set the work in place, but gave it a robust layer of protection against mishap.
Of course, in a large public building that might come from various sources, such as a fire or flood. But it can also be deliberate, as happened to Van Gogh’s masterpiece last month when two Just Stop Oil activists deliberately threw the contents of a tin of tomato soup over it, before gluing themselves to the wall.
It was not the first time this year climate protesters have launched a food attack on a famous painting, with cake being the weapon of choice against the Mona Lisa in the Louvre earlier this year and a Monet painting in the German city of Potsdam being assailed with mash potato. These are just some of the stunts undertaken involving food, glue and other substances.
The good news is that the Sunflowers are back on display, with only minor damage to the frame that needed repairing, while the glass provided complete protection for the painting itself. In the same way, Lisa won’t be fulfilling the desires of Marie Antoinette.
While these paintings were attacked deliberately in public galleries and museums, any paintings you have framed that end up in homes, offices or other comparatively low key locations are unlikely to suffer such a fate. But there is still the chance of accidental damage.
Any food-flinging incidents may be more the work of recalcitrant toddlers than protestors, while another danger might be harm caused in transit when moving house.
Either way, there will come a time in the life of every painting when its owner will have reason to be glad of the professional work of the framer who gave it such effective protection.