Staff at the Croome Estate, a Neo-Palladian mansion in Central England, recently discovered blue crayon scribbled all over an 18th-century nude statue by prominent British sculptor John Bacon. The artwork depicting a reclining Sabrina, a water nymph from Welsh fairytales, was found on Easter Sunday entirely covered in the anonymous doodles. And you thought your toddler’s living room wall masterpieces were bad!
The National Trust, which oversees the historic site, removed the markings four days later on Thursday, April 13. The vandal has not been identified at this stage.
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“We are dismayed that this has happened,” a National Trust spokesperson told Hyperallergic. “Disappointing as they are, incidents like this are very rare considering the millions of visitors who enjoy and respect the places in our care.”
The perpetrator also drew on a nearby plaque commemorating Lancelot Capability Brown, an 18th-century British landscape architect. The Croome Estate was Brown’s first major commission and he spent years renovating the home and grounds, even creating a hand-dug river that stretched over a mile and a half long. The sculpture of Sabrina is displayed along this body of water; it was originally surrounded by seashells and gems, but its embellishments are no longer there.
The Croome Estate contains an original 17th-century home with an extensive network of gardens and outlying buildings. It has taken on many iterations including a World War II airbase, a boys school, and from 1979 to 1984, the UK headquarters of Hare Krishna.
Acts of vandalism against public art are relatively rare. Last year, climate activists made frequent headlines when they staged actions targeting famous museum works. Though paintings splashed with liquids including “oil” and tomato soup were not damaged, some museums tightened security measures in response. Last week, Italian culture minister Gennaro Sangiuliano proposed five-figure fines for vandalizing art and public monuments. The country’s Council of Ministers passed the recommendation, but the move drew criticism from climate activists who suspected the new law was a direct response to their initiatives.