The Hermitage has withdrawn a demand to get works loaned to Italian art galleries back. The authorities at the famed Saint Petersburg museum have had a change of heart. The works will therefore stay on show until the end of the exhibitions.
The Hermitage works are on display at various Milanese galleries and include Picasso’s Young Woman, on show for the first time in Italy until May 15 at Palazzo Rhinoceros. Also on loan are Titian’s Young Woman With Plumed Hat, on show at Palazzo Reale until June 5; and 25 works in a show on the Grand Tour at the Gallerie d’Italia until March 27.
The Hermitage’s U-turn has been taken as a possible sign of peace amid the Russia-Ukraine war, Ansa reported.
The deal between the Hermitage and the Russian culture ministry was announced on Monday. It followed mediation talks by the Ermitage Italia Foundation, Italian newspaper La Repubblica reports.
Five days previously, the Russian culture ministry asked for the immediate return of works on loan to Italy. This was as a result of sanctions by EU< countries against Russia following its initiation of war against Ukraine.
The Hermitage works on show at Gallerie d’Italia will be allowed to remain until the exhibition’s scheduled end date of 27 March. Meanwhile, no date has been put forward for the return of the works on loan to Palazzo Reale and Fondazione Fendi. However, online art newspaper Finestre sull’Arte says there is “certainly no longer talk of immediate withdrawal.”
‘Bridges of culture’
La Stampa newspaper quoted the Hermitage director Mikhail Piotrovskij as saying, “The paintings by Titian and Picasso will continue to hang on the walls of museums for several weeks”, while the Hermitage works in the Grand Tour exhibition, “upon agreement with the organisers, will be withdrawn immediately upon official closing.”
“We are very sorry that cultural relations between our countries have collapsed in such ‘darkness,'” Piotrovskij said. “We always say that the bridges of culture are blown up last. Now the time has come to protect them.”
“Today’s museum situation must show a way of solving serious problems in a very complicated world in order not to become an instrument of political struggle”, said the Hermitage director. He concluded, “We need new approaches and agreements without a return to Cold War rhetoric.”