Increased security at the Musée d'Orsay is reported to have paid off last week after guards stopped a protester from throwing soup over an artwork and glueing her face to another.
The woman aroused suspicion when she took off her jumper to reveal a ‘Just Stop Oil’ slogan on a white T-shirt, Le Parisien reports.
She was allegedly accompanied by cameramen on the visit on Thursday (October 27).
Van Gogh and Gauguin believed to be targets
The museum declined to say which painting was targeted but the woman is believed to have approached Vincent Van Gogh’s 1889 ‘Self-portrait in Saint-Rémy’ with the intention to stick her face to it and carried the soup to throw at a Paul Gauguin canvas if that failed.
Security intervened and she was escorted to the exit before police arrived.
The Paris prosecutor's office said police had opened an investigation after the Musée d'Orsay told AFP it had filed an official complaint for “attempt to damage a piece of work”.
Activists try glueing face to ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’
The incident took place on the same day climate activists tried to glue themselves to Johannes Vermeer's ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ at the Mauritshuis museum in The Hague, Netherlands.
Earlier this month, a German environmental group threw mashed potatoes over Claude Monet’s ‘Les Meules’ (‘Haystacks’) at Museum Barberini outside Berlin.
Just Stop Oil activists also emptied tomato soup over Vincent van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’ at the National Gallery in London before glueing themselves to the wall below it.
All the paintings were behind glass and undamaged.
France’s Culture Minister Rima Abdul Malak has urged national museums to "redouble their vigilance" in the wake of these protests.
Just Stop Oil, a non-violent civil resistance movement, is demanding that governments halt all future licensing for development and production of fossil fuels.
Activists say their campaign against artworks highlights the disparity between the protection afforded to paintings but not the billions of lives at risk because of climate change.