Those Who Destroy Art: Mary Richardson

The Slashing of Velazquez’s The Rokeby Venus

Velazquez The Rokeby Venus Slashed 1914
Velazquez The Rokeby Venus Slashed by Mary Richardson in 1914

Doing research for my book Evolution Through Art and beginning the chapter Those Who Destroy Art. Three candidates so far are contemporary, Sarah Parcak, the Egyptologist who released instructions on how to topple monuments. The friar Fra Girolamo Savonarola, along with his militants called Piagnoni, hosted public burnings of precious art and books during the height of the Renaissance just a couple of years before Michelangelo sculpted the David. Had Savonarola not been hung and burned Michelangelo might never have continued to create his greatest works. And Mary Richardson who slashed Velazquez’s The Rokeby Venus in 1914.

Blackshirt member of the British Union of Fascists
Blackshirt member of the British Union of Fascists

Mary Richardson was brought up by her mom and her Puritan grandparents in Canada and then shipped off to England. She was arrested 9 times for such things as the slashing of the Velazquez, bombing a railroad station, and setting fires. I would speculate that her grandparents sent her as far away as possible because of her arsonist leanings, and probably didn’t want to be torched at night in their sleep. hahah. She was a Blackshirt member of the British Union of Fascists, they had that straight-arm Nazi salute. She was also part of the suffrage movement and she tried and failed (thankfully) for political office in England. Her out-of-print autobiography is virtually impossible to get so I will rely on 2nd hand accounts of it, apparently, her autobiography is riddled with omissions and fibbing. One of the reasons she gives for destroying the painting was: “I didn’t like the way men visitors to the gallery gaped at it all day.”

These three people justify their destruction of art purposes behind idealism. But I don’t take that seriously, rather I am sure there is pathological need to destroy stuff. Beware of people that don’t create and destroy things, most of them are sick MFs.

I will be highlighting about six people that destroy art in this chapter, and the fun part is they will be the “face” of postmodernists later in the book.

Michael Newberry, Idyllwild, 6/18/2020

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