Anna Holland, 20, and Phoebe Plummer, 21, both members of civil disobedience group Just Stop Oil, pleaded not guilty to District Judge Tan Irkam.
Both were released on bail and are awaiting trial on December 13 in London.
The painting itself was unharmed as it was protected by glass, but the frame received “minor damage,” the gallery said.
Two activists entered the National Gallery and threw two cans of Heinz tomato soup onto a canvas painted in 1888 by the Dutch Impressionist master. The work is valued at 72.5 million pounds (almost 84 million euros).
It all happened around 11 am in the museum located on Trafalgar Square: video posted by the organization on social media shows the band’s T-shirt duo throwing out the contents of two cans of Heinz tomato soup before sticking their hand to the wall below the ruined painting.
Then one of the activists, 21-year-old Phoebe Plummer, is heard saying, “Which is more precious, art or life? Is it more expensive than food? More than justice? our planet and people?
Shaking the can, he added: “The cost of living crisis is part of the cost of the oil crisis. Fuel is out of reach for millions of hungry and cold families. They can’t even heat up a can of soup.”
Visitors, journalists and photographers surrounded the activists after the attack before being escorted out by National Gallery security, who quickly sealed off the room where the painting was on display.
Police arrested the two women on charges of “intentional restitution and aggravated misdemeanor.”
Sunflowers is Van Gogh’s second most famous work to be attacked by the Just Stop Oil group. In late June, two activists from the group glued their hands to an 1889 painting, Peach Trees in Bloom, at the Courtauld Gallery in London.
Activists associated with the group have been blocking roads around Parliament and elsewhere in London for 14 days, advocating the immediate suspension of “all future oil and gas exploration, development and production licenses” in the United Kingdom.
Increasingly questioned over her political, economic and environmental decisions, the new British Conservative Prime Minister Liz Trouss, appointed on September 6 as the successor to the controversial Boris Johnson, announced two days later the lifting of the moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in the United Kingdom. United.
In addition to resolving this controversial fossil fuel extraction method, previously banned in the country, Truss also announced an increase in North Sea oil and gas licenses as part of its response to the energy crisis.