Masterpiece damaged - Sheffield man charged with criminal damage

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A Sheffield man has been charged with criminal damage after a masterpiece by the English romantic painter John Constable was vandalised.

Paul Manning, aged 57, was charged by the Metropolitan Police and appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Saturday.

Manning, of Kirkstone Road, Walkley, Sheffield, was arrested yesterday at the National Gallery in London, after somebody glued a four-inch photograph of a young boy to The Hay Wain.

No lasting damage was done to the 1821 painting in room 34, a gallery spokeswoman said.

The gallery spokeswoman said: “Conservation staff were on the scene very rapidly and the painting was removed for treatment.

“No damage to Constable’s original paint occurred and there is no lasting damage to the painting.”

The incident happened as Fathers4Justice said it was abandoning its five-year “attempted engagement with the political establishment” and called on fathers to take “independent weekly direct action” in the spirit of the Suffragettes 100 years ago.

She added that the picture was due to go back on display last night.

The Hay Wain is one of the country’s most recognisable works of art.

Constable’s oil painting shows an idyllic rural scene with a cart - the eponymous hay wain - in the river Stour in Suffolk.

The National Gallery spokeswoman said it would investigate the security breach but praised “the prompt action and quick thinking” of staff who intervened before any more lasting damage could be done.

Manning was remanded on bail and will next appear at Southwark Crown Court on July 12.

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