A woman has attacked the painting Two Tahitian Women by Paul Gauguin hanging in the National Gallery in Washington DC.

Ms Burns, 53, from Virginia was charged with attempted theft and destruction of property and is being held pending a mental evaluation. She told police she thought Gauguin was ‘evil’ and the painting should be burned, according to court records viewed by the Associated Press news agency.

The 1899 oil-on-canvas painting, which depicts two women's bare breasts is on loan from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The painting is said to be unharmed and is expected to go back on display as part of the Gauguin: Maker of Myth exhibition on Tuesday morning.

Gauguin: Maker of Myth will be on display at the National Gallery of Art, Washington until June 5th 2011.