Thomas Gainsborough, Mr and Mrs William Hallett (‘The Morning Walk’), 1785, oil on canvas, 93 x 70 1/2".

Man Attacks Thomas Gainsborough Painting in the National Gallery with a Screwdriver

Alice Ross reports in The Guardian that last Saturday a man named Keith Gregory attacked Thomas Gainsborough’s painting Mr and Mrs William Hallett (‘The Morning Walk’), 1785, with a screwdriver, prompting his detainment by visitors and guards as well as the evacuation and closure of the east wing of the National Gallery in London. On Sunday afternoon, police announced formal charges of causing criminal damage, and the man has been remanded to appear at Westminster magistrates court today.

A spokeswoman for the gallery said, “The damage is limited to two long scratches which have penetrated the paint layers but not the supporting canvas . . . The painting was removed from display and examined by the gallery’s conservators, who are now assessing next steps.”

The Gainsborough painting hangs in room thirty-four, which houses British paintings in the museum. Painted three years before the artist’s death, Morning Walk depicts a young couple, William Hallett and Elizabeth Stephen, walking in the countryside with a dog.