Gainsborough painting: Man charged with criminal damage

Mr and Mrs. Hallett or The morning walk, by Thomas Gainsborough Image copyright National Gallery
Image caption Conservators will now decide how best to restore the painting

A man has appeared in court accused of criminal damage to a renowned Thomas Gainsborough painting at The National Gallery in London.

Keith Gregory, 63, of no fixed address, appeared at Westminster Magistrates' Court and was remanded in custody until an appearance on Thursday.

Gainsborough's The Morning Walk, part of the permanent British Paintings exhibition, was damaged on Saturday.

The painting has been removed from display until it is restored.

The 18th Century work depicts couple William Hallett and Elizabeth Stephen walking through a woodland landscape.

Dr Gabriele Finaldi, director of the National Gallery, said The Morning Walk was one of Gainsborough's "most famous" works.

He told the BBC: "It has all the dreamy, beautiful feathery brushstrokes of Gainsborough.

"When people think of Gainsborough, The Morning Walk may well be one of the first pictures that comes to their mind."

Gallery conservators are assessing the next steps of a conservation effort to restore the work.

Mr Gregory refused legal representation at the court hearing.

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