Russia demanded that several Italian museums return paintings and other art works that were loaned to them, as international tension created by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine spills over into the art world.
Russia’s Ministry of Culture has this week demanded that the Gallerie d’Italia in Milan, a museum owned by Italian bank Intesa Sanpaolo, return 23 art works loaned by four Russian museums that are currently on display as part of an exhibition called “Grand tour: The dream of Italy from Venice to Pompeii,” a spokesman for Intesa Sanpaolo said on Thursday. The paintings, sculptures and vases will be returned to Russia before the end of the exhibition, the spokesman said.
Separately, Mikhail Piotrovsky, the director of the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, has written to Palazzo Reale museum in Milan requesting the return of two paintings, including “Young Woman With a Feathered Hat” by Venetian master Titian. The paintings are expected to be shipped to Russia in about a week, a spokeswoman for Palazzo Reale said.
“It’s obvious that when an owner requests the return of its works, these must be returned,” Italy’s Minister of Culture Dario Franceschini told reporters late Wednesday.
The Italian ministry is compiling a list of works belonging to Italian museums and cultural institutions that are currently on loan in Russia, a Rome government official said. No decision has been made as to whether there will be a formal request for their return earlier than previously agreed.
The Russian Embassy in Italy declined to comment.