Francis de Saint-Vidal, Ain El Fouara fountain (1898) / chisel and hammer

In December 2017, this work was damaged while on public view in the northern Algerian town of Sétif. Passers-by watched as a man climbed the pedestal and broke off the face and breasts of the female figure.

The event was documented by multiple onlookers. Footage shows people shouting at the perpetrator, some throwing things at him while others physically strike him with sticks. One man eventually managed to get up on the statue with a stick in his hand, forcing the assailant to protect himself, at which point another man wrestled his hammer away. Once police arrived at the scene, officers had to restrain multiple onlookers trying to attack the assailant, who was arrested on-site.

It’s not yet known whether the damaged work could be restored.

This wasn’t the first time the nude figure caused controversy. In April 1997, it was damaged by a homemade bomb; it was also attacked by a man with a hammer in February 2006. In each case, the damage was repairable.

Christopher Schreck