Activists tape themselves to a copy of Leonardo’s The Last Supper and add a series of similar protests

Written by Jacqui Palumbo, CNN

A group of climate activists who disrupted major galleries this week to send a message to the UK government have struck again – this time at the Royal Academy of Art in London.

On Tuesday morning, Just Stop Oil (JSO) protesters taped themselves to a frame containing a copy of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper, believed to have been painted by two of the Italian Renaissance master’s students. The activists also spray-painted the slogan “No New Oil” in white under the painting, a gallery spokesman confirmed to CNN.

Leonardo originally created “The Last Supper” between 1495 and 1497 as a fresco in the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, depicting the moment when Jesus tells his 12 disciples that he will be betrayed by one of the demonstrators, the Giampietrino and Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio, were painted some 15 years later.

Just Stop Oil protesters are calling on the UK government to block future oil and gas exploration licenses and warn of a bleak future if action is not taken to slow the effects of climate change.

Climate protesters taped themselves to a copy of Leonardo da Vinci’s famous painting. Recognition: James Manning/PA Images/Getty Images

According to The Independent, a protester at the gallery compared the government to Jesus’ betrayer Judas and said Just Stop Oil chose this “magnificently beautiful painting” because the future was “bleaker than ever”.

Four protesters remained in the room housing the painting, which was closed to the public because of the demonstration, for more than three hours before they were removed by police, according to the gallery. The spokesman added that the condition of the painting is being assessed by conservators from the Royal Academy.

The protest marks the fifth time members of the group have attached themselves to a famous work of art in their line of demonstrations over the past week. Earlier incidents involved a work by Vincent Van Gogh at London’s Courtauld Gallery and a painting by JMW Turner at the Manchester Art Gallery. Just Stop Oil also disrupted the Formula 1 British Grand Prix by sitting at the Silverstone circuit on Sunday.

CNN reported that the latest protest took place at London’s National Gallery on Monday, where activists covered John Constable’s famous landscape painting The Hay Wain with a modified version of the image before sticking their hands on the frame. Her vision of the painting, which depicts a rural Suffolk scene, replaced a river with a cobbled road and included factory chimneys and airplanes overhead. The group has warned that the natural beauty of some of the landscapes they have chosen is at serious risk due to climate change.
The group modified a painting by John Constable on Monday before attaching themselves to the frame.  JSO has glued himself to the frames of five paintings in the past week.

The group modified a painting by John Constable on Monday before attaching themselves to the frame. JSO has glued himself to the frames of five paintings in the past week. Recognition: Kirsty O’Connor/PA Images/Reuters

Just Stop Oil identified the protesters at the National Gallery as students Hannah Hunt and Eben Lazarus. London’s Metropolitan Police previously confirmed to CNN that two people were arrested on suspicion of criminal damage and later released on bail pending further investigation.

Following the recent protest at the Royal Academy of Art, Just Stop Oil released a statement identifying some of the protesters. Lucy Porter, a 47-year-old former teacher, said: “We have run out of time to say we are lying. The government is making a meaningful statement about it. Until then, the disruption will continue so young people know that we are doing everything we can for them. There’s nothing I’d rather be doing.”

Another member, 21-year-old art student Jessica Agar, also called on arts institutions to join her cause.

“If the directors of this gallery truly believe that art has the power to change the world, then I demand that they claim that power, close and refuse to open until the government commits to new oil,” she said.

The Royal Academy of Art has not commented on Agar’s request that the gallery be closed.

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