A man has appeared in court charged with causing criminal damage to a beloved 18th century painting in the National Gallery.

Keith Gregory, 63, of no fixed abode, appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court following an incident on Saturday afternoon in which a picture from the permanent British Paintings exhibition was damaged.

Senior district judge Emma Arbuthnot adjourned the case to Thursday after Gregory refused legal representation.

The incident took place at the National Gallery (John Walton/PA)
The incident took place at the National Gallery (John Walton/PA)

The Morning Walk, by Thomas Gainsborough, depicts an “elegant young couple”, William Hallett and Elizabeth Stephen, strolling through a woodland landscape.

A National Gallery website page devoted to the work said Hallett and Stephen were both aged 21 and “due to be married in the summer of 1785, shortly after the painting was completed”.

The painting has been removed from display by gallery conservators, who are assessing the next steps of a conservation effort to restore the work.

At Monday’s hearing, Gregory was remanded in custody until his appearance on Thursday.