The woman (28) wrote an inscription in marker on the French romantic artist’s most recognisable painting La Liberté guidant le peuple or Liberty Leading the People.
She was intercepted by a guard and another visitor before being handed over to police. A statement from the Louvre-Lens, an extension of the famous Paris-based Louvre which only opened last December, where the incident took place, said the painting “could be easily cleaned” and is being examined by a restorer.
The woman wrote AE911 near the bottom of the canvas which is alleged by unnamed sources to be a reference to a 9/11 conspiracy theory. Before France switched to the Euro Delacroix’s painting featured on the 100 franc banknote. Liberty Leading the People is on loan to Louvre-Lens for a year.
The work, which depicts a bare-chested woman holding the French flag during the July Revolution of 1830, is thought to have inspired the Statue of Liberty. It is the latest in a series of high profile defacements of public art. In December Wlodzimierz Umaniec was jailed for two years for vandalising a painting by Mark Rothko worth £9 million (Rs 65 crore)in the name of his yellowist movement at the Tate Modern gallery, London.