The trial has begun of a man accused of causing €7m worth of damage to a Claude Monet painting at the National Gallery of Ireland.

Andrew Shannon, 48, of Willans Way, Ongar in Dublin 15, is accused of putting his hand through the painting in June last year. 

The painting, Argenteuil Basin with a Single Sailboat, dates from 1874 and is valued at about €10m.

He has pleaded not guilty to causing criminal damage to the painting.

The court heard he told two tourists who witnessed the incident that he had felt faint and collapsed onto the painting.

The trial was told Mr Shannon was captured on CCTV footage entering and leaving the room in the Millennium Wing of the National Gallery where the painting was hanging on 29 June last year.

Opening the case, barrister Kerida Naidoo said the incident happened at about 11am and gardaí and an ambulance arrived within 15 minutes.  

He said Mr Shannon told a number of people, including two tourists from New Zealand, that he had fallen or in some way collapsed against the painting. 

He said the jury would hear that Mr Shannon's pulse was taken, he was given oxygen and was described as having a sweaty forehead.  But after a short while medics decided his condition was not a cause for concern.

Senior Counsel Brendan Grehan, who is defending Mr Shannon, told the jury that his client accepts the damage was caused by his hand coming into contact with the painting. 

He said his client has a history of heart problems and was taken to hospital by ambulance after the incident.

He was then driven to a garda station where he was seen by three different doctors over 12 hours. 

He was brought back to hospital the following morning.

The trial is expected to last five days. 

The jury was told the eye witnesses have travelled from New Zealand to give evidence.