A clumsy art lover has damaged a rare Picasso painting after losing her balance and tripping onto the masterpiece, according to Sky News.

The woman collided with the century-old work, called The Actor, and caused a six-inch vertical tear in the lower right hand corner.

The accident happened at New York`s Metropolitan Museum of Art where its experts have been assessing the damage.

In a statement, the Met said the tear did not affect "the focal point of the composition".

It also said it expects the repair - which will take place in the next few weeks - will be "unobtrusive".

The painting, measuring about 6ft by 4ft, had been hanging on the wall of a second-floor gallery with other early Picassos.

The woman was attending an adult education class on Friday afternoon when she stumbled into the masterpiece.

She has not been identified by the Met but was not injured in the accident.

Picasso created the painting, which depicts an acrobat posed against an abstracted backdrop, during his so-called Pink or Rose Period in the winter of 1904-5. It was donated to the Met in 1952.

Museum officials say they expect the repair to be completed in time for a new exhibition.

Picasso In The Metropolitan Museum Of Art is an exhibition of 250 works from its collection that opens on April 27.

By Adam Arnold, Sky News Online