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Masterpiece mauled: Tretyakov gallery head slams ‘frightening’ pole attack on work of art

May 28, 18:12 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The gallery said the painting was badly damaged

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Ivan the Terrible and His Son by Ilya Repin

Ivan the Terrible and His Son by Ilya Repin

© Public domain/Wikimedia Commons

MOSCOW, May 28. /TASS/. An attack with a metal pole on Ilya Repin’s famous painting Ivan the Terrible and His Son is "an awful and frightening incident suggesting that society is gripped by aggresion," Tretyakov Gallery Director General Zelfira Tregulova told reporters on Monday.

"The painting Ivan the Terrible and His Son is tremendously significant and extremely fragile. It has never been lent out by the gallery, and only left it during the war," Gregulova stressed.

She also stressed that vandalism against works of art was a frequent event in the 20th century. "Here, we are reminded of the Mona Lisa and Night Watch. The Mona Lisa is hanging in a niche protected by bulletproof glass. While, two guards protect The Night Watch," she reiterated, citing more examples.

"And of course, the incident in our country - an attack on a painting by Rembrandt in the Hermitage, with sulfuric acid thrown on the canvas," she added.

Assault on Tretyakov’s treasure

The painting, one of Russia’s most famous, depicting Ivan the Terrible, grief-stricken and cradling his dying son, was damaged just before the gallery closed on Friday, May 25. Police arriving on the scene detained the perpetrator, who had smashed the glass protecting the painting with a metal poll, damaging the canvas. Criminal proceedings have been initiated. The culprit confessed to being intoxicated.

The gallery said the painting was badly damaged. The canvas was ripped in three places in the central section, while shards of glass that shattered in the attack damaged the frame as well.

This has been the second attack on the painting. On January 16, 1913, Abram Balashov, a 29-year-old icon painter and Old Believer, took a knife and slashed the painting three times. Repin had to paint the faces of the tsar and his son anew.

Russia’s Sberbank said on Monday it would bankroll efforts to restore the painting, Deputy Chairman of the Board Stanislav Kuznetsov said. He stated that the restoration work was estimated at 5-10 million rubles ($80,160 to $160,320).

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