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Statement on Gainsborough incident

An incident took place at around 2.15pm on Saturday 18 March 2017 in Room 34 (British paintings) of the National Gallery.

'Mr and Mrs William Hallett', better known as 'The Morning Walk', a 1785 painting by Thomas Gainsborough, was attacked with a pointed object by a visiting member of the public.

The damage was limited to two long scratches which penetrated the paint surface and the canvas support, but did not break through the canvas lining.

The man was immediately apprehended thanks to the quick response of the Gallery Assistant in the room, helped by members of the public and then by other Gallery Assistants.

The Police were called and were quickly on site. The man was arrested and taken into custody.

The painting was removed from display and examined by the Gallery's conservators.

The process of consolidating the pigment layers in the areas affected by the scratches began immediately. The preliminary reports suggest that the damage can be repaired relatively easily and the picture should be back on the wall shortly.

The East Wing of the National Gallery (which includes Room 34) – which had been evacuated and closed after the incident  was reopened within two hours.

The whole incident was dealt with rapidly and professionally by the security team at the National Gallery, which prevented harm to people or further damage to works of art.