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Thomas Gainsborough painting, which appeared in James Bond movie Skyfall, allegedly slashed at National Gallery

PUBLISHED: 17:19 19 March 2017

Daniel Craig as James Bond in Skyfall in Room 34 of the National Gallery which houses The Morning Walk by Thomas Gainsborough. Photo: PA Photo/Sony UK

Daniel Craig as James Bond in Skyfall in Room 34 of the National Gallery which houses The Morning Walk by Thomas Gainsborough. Photo: PA Photo/Sony UK

A priceless painting by Suffolk artist Thomas Gainsborough was allegedly slashed by a man with a screwdriver at London’s National Gallery.

Keith Gregory has been charged on suspicion of causing criminal damage to The Morning Walk, by Suffolk artist Thomas Gainsborough, at London's National Gallery. Photo: National Gallery/PA WireKeith Gregory has been charged on suspicion of causing criminal damage to The Morning Walk, by Suffolk artist Thomas Gainsborough, at London's National Gallery. Photo: National Gallery/PA Wire

A priceless painting by Suffolk artist Thomas Gainsborough was allegedly slashed by a man with a screwdriver at London’s National Gallery.

The Morning Walk, a 1785 portrait, was left with two large scratches which damaged the layers of paint on Saturday, March 18.

Keith Gregory, 63, of no fixed abode, was charged on suspicion of causing criminal damage today after the alleged incident.

The painting, which shows an “elegant young couple strolling through a woodland landscape”, was attacked with a “sharp instrument” by a visiting member of the public, the gallery said.

Thomas GainsboroughThomas Gainsborough

It suffered “two long scratches which have penetrated the paint layers, but not the supporting canvas,” they added.

The painting sits in the National Gallery’s iconic Room 34, which featured in the James Bond film Skyfall.

The east wing of the gallery, where the British Paintings are housed, was evacuated shortly after the alarm was raised at 2.15pm yesterday afternoon.

It reopened two hours later.

The couple in the painting are thought to be William Hallett and Elizabeth Stephen, both aged 21 and “due to be married in the summer of 1785, shortly after the painting was completed,” according to a National Gallery website page.

The painting has been removed from display while the damage is assessed.

Gregory is due to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court tomorrow, police said.

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