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A painting slashed by the Suffragettes is going back on display

Cutting crew: The portrait of Thomas Carlyle by John Everett Millais National Portrait Gallery London

She was dubbed the “fury with a chopper”.

In 1914 suffragette Anne Hunt, armed with a meat cleaver, entered the National Portrait Gallery and hacked away at a painting of one of its founders.

A century later, the restored portrait of Thomas Carlyle, by pre-Raphaelite great Sir John Everett Millais, is back on display.

Alongside it is a photograph showing the damage caused, in an exhibition about the suffrage campaign.

The gallery has opened its archives to reveal more about the attack by Hunt — who was also described as a “wild woman” by newspapers at the time.

At her trial she said the painting would be “of added value and of great historical importance because it has been honoured by the attention of a militant”. The show is one of dozens of events across the UK to mark the 100th anniversary of the Representation of the People Act 1918, which gave some women the vote for the first time.

p7 29/01/2018 (National Portrait Gallery London)  

Hunt was sentenced to six months’ jail, but was released after six days. Her attack, which followed the rearrest of suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst,  was part of a wave of destructive protests that led to galleries and museums tightening security. The NPG made women leave bags, muffs and parcels in cloakrooms in case of concealed weapons.

Its show features pictures of suffragette leaders issued to museums and galleries by Scotland Yard so they could identify potential attackers, as well postcard portraits printed by the campaigners.

After an attack at the Natioal Gallery, in 1914, assistant keeper James Milner wrote: “If women are to be admitted … there seems no alternative but to handcuff their hands behind their backs and to put up a grille to prevent them butting or barging into the pictures.”

Article by Robert Dex, The Evening Standard, London.

Posted in: News on January 29, 2018 by...