France has withdrawn 15 works of art from an exhibition at the Moscow Kremlin Museums due to open this month. The UK, Spain, and Austria have also withdrawn their loans earlier. The Kremlin Museum has announced the postponement of the exhibition “Duel: From Trial by Combat to a Noble Crime” due to the deterioration of relations between Russia and the international cultural community. The museum also offered creditors the opportunity to withdraw their participation.
France presented the most works of art at the exhibition. Fifteen of them were taken from the country’s most prestigious institutions, including the Louvre, Versailles, and the French National Library. He announced his decision the day after an informal meeting of European ministers in charge of culture and the media.
Speaking of France’s participation in Russian cultural events, French Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot said their presence could be used as a sign of divergence between European countries, writes Le Monde newspaper. She added that dissociation was out of the question, but the correspondence with the Kremlin Museum remained cordial and without any overt hostility.
The exhibition explores the culture of duels in the 16th and 17th centuries and it was scheduled to run from 3 March to 16 June. Negotiations between Moscow and European institutions began in early 2020, and the loan agreement was concluded in February 2021.
The Louvre sent six works to the Kremlin Museum. A painting from the workshop of Jean Clouet is among them, as well as a pair of pistols with the coat of arms of France. Two paintings by Philippe de Champaign, depicting respectively the 16th-century French priest Cardinal Richelieu and Cardinal Mazarin, were brought from Versailles. These works will most likely go to the French embassy in Moscow since it was difficult to deliver works of art to and from Russia.
As the siege of Ukraine continues, artists and cultural institutions around the world are still undecided whether to support Russia’s so-called cultural sanctions. Several artists responded by demanding that current exhibitions in Russia be closed or their work be removed from group projects.
Institutions with close ties to Russian Federation are also taking unprecedented steps. Hermitage branches in Amsterdam and London are cutting ties with the leading St. Petersburg institution, which is one of the country’s largest art spaces.