More on the Poussin attack

January 30 2012

There was an intriguing nugget of information buried in a recent Guardian piece on yet another strike by room warders at the National Gallery:

The PCS [Public & Commercial Services Union] claims that last year, when a man walked into the gallery and threw red paint over Poussin's The Adoration of the Golden Calf, the assistant on duty was in the adjoining room. Had he been there, the union says, the attack "would not have happened".

The National disputes this version of events: it insists the assistant was shown on CCTV to have been in the doorway of the room during the attack.

I wonder which account is correct, the union's or the Gallery's. Given the layout of the galleries where the Poussin hangs, I presume the doorway in question was that between room 19 and room 20 (click here for the NG floorplan). The other possible doorway opens onto a much larger central gallery, 18, which would, one expects, have its own guard. If this scenario is correct, then it means a warder was practically adjacent to the painting when it was attacked.

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