Russia Cancels UK Painting Exhibition

Art reversal is latest salvo in worsening diplomatic tit-for-tat
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 19, 2007 10:53 AM CST
Russia Cancels UK Painting Exhibition
The Royal Academy in London, whose exhibition of paintings from Russian collections has been canceled.   ((c) currybet)

A major exhibition of Russian-owned art in London was canceled today, the Guardian reports, the latest casualty of cooled relations in the wake of the Alexander Litvinenko affair. More than 100 paintings were to go on exhibition Jan. 26 at London's Royal Academy, but Russian agencies are now refusing the loans, officially for fear the art won't be returned.

Many of the paintings—including works by Picasso, Matisse, and Cezanne—that were to be shown were seized by the Communists in 1917, and descendants of their former owner have sued to win them back. Although the UK sent Russia a "letter of comfort" assuring the loans would be returned, that wasn't good enough for the culture officials. (Read more Alexander Litvinenko stories.)

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