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Mary Richardson leaving court

Central News1914

Museum of London

Museum of London
London, United Kingdom

The suffragette 'Slasher' Mary Richardson, leaving court, 10 March, 1914. On 4th March Mary Richardson entered the National Gallery and inflicted seven 'wounds' across Velázquez's painting 'The toilet of Venus' The painting had only been acquired for the nation in 1906, for the considerable sum of £45,000. The fame, value and recent acquisition of the painting all helped make this a particularly sensitive attack on a national art treasure. Richardson's slashes were deliberately aimed at the torso of the nude Venus. In her defence she declared ‘I have tried to destroy the picture of the most beautiful woman in mythological history as a protest against the Government for destroying Mrs. Pankhurst who is the most beautiful character in modern history… Justice is an element of beauty as much as colour and outline on canvas… until the public ceases to countenance human destruction, the stones cast against me for the destruction of this picture are each an evidence against them of artistic as well as moral and political humbug and hypocrisy.’
For this attack Richardson was sentenced to six months in Holloway but was released on 6 April, suffering from recurring appendicitis.

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