Man charged after Thomas Gainsborough painting attacked at National Gallery

Adam Arnold, News Reporter

A man has been charged after a painting by British artist Thomas Gainsborough was attacked reportedly with a screwdriver at London's National Gallery.

The 1785 artwork, Mr and Mrs William Hallett, better known as The Morning Walk, was damaged by a sharp instrument during an incident on Saturday afternoon.

The piece suffered two long scratches through the paint but the canvas beneath was not affected, a gallery spokeswoman told Sky News.

Gallery assistants were helped by some of the tourist attraction's visitors as they detained a man following the attack.

The east wing of the gallery was evacuated and stayed shut for about two hours, before being re-opened.

The painting has been removed from display and the damage is being assessed by the gallery's conservators.

The spokeswoman said it was too early to say what the financial cost was of the damage.

Police said Keith Gregory, 63, of no fixed address, has been charged with causing criminal damage to a painting at the National Gallery.

He was remanded to appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court on Monday.

According to the gallery's website: "The Morning Walk shows an elegant young couple strolling through a woodland landscape, an attentive dog at the lady's heel.

"William Hallett and Elizabeth Stephen were both aged 21 and due to be married in the summer of 1785, shortly after the painting was completed.

"Portraits of wealthy sitters posed in a natural setting and dressed in their finest (but not necessarily most practical) clothes were a popular status symbol."