Dirty Corner, a controversial sculpture by British-Indian sculptor Anish Kapoor - dubbed "the queen's vagina" - has been vandalised in the gardens of the Palace of Versailles just outside Paris.

The estate's management said: "Damage to the work, Dirty Corner, was discovered Wednesday [17 June] morning. It was lightly sprayed with paint. The work is being cleaned."

The 60 metre-long, 10 metre-high steel-and-rock abstract sculpture resembles a funnel and faces the royal château, which attracts five million tourists a year, reported Agence France-Presse.

Kapoor has described the piece as "the vagina of a queen who is taking power".

It has already drawn opposition with Versailles's mayor François de Mazières tweeting that the provocateur had "slipped up".

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Voices from the blogosphere have also rounded on the sculpture, saying it is inappropriate, while Twitter users have called for for a boycott.

It comes one year after American artist Paul McCarthy's "butt plug" Tree sculpture courted criticism for apparently "humiliating" the French capital.

A total of six pieces by Kapoor will be on display in the palace and its gardens, including "Shooting Into the Corner", which features a canon firing 5kg bundles of red wax against a wall.

Local officials expressed their "indignation" over the vandalism. It was "unacceptable that art, the compass of freedom, suffer because of the obscurantism of some people", they said.