Henri Matisse, “The Plumed Hat” 1919 / museumgoer

In August 2011, this painting was attacked while on view at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. 

Susan Burns, 53, repeatedly slammed the painting against the wall, but was stopped before she could remove the work from its mounting. She was arrested on-site and charged with felony destruction of government property, attempted theft, unlawful entry and contempt of court for violating an order barring her from entering the National Gallery [more on that in a moment]. While damage was done to the work’s antique frame, the painting itself was left unharmed. 

This was not Burns’ first time attacking a modernist artwork: Only four months earlier, she had attacked the Gaugin painting “Two Tahitian Women” in the same gallery. Once again, she was apprehended before any damage was done to the work in question.

Christopher Schreck