The incident took place on 31 July, with the tourist allegedly fleeing the scene before being caught. The museum subsequently released a statement on 1 August.

Sgarbi has called on police to identify the “vandal” and “not let him return to his homeland unpunished” for the “unacceptable” damage caused to the work, reports Italian newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano.

The plaster model has been in Possagno since 1829, seven years after the death of Canova in nearby Venice. image: Paolina Borghese sculpture at Galleria Borghese.