Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, France has withdrawn 15 artworks set to appear in an exhibition at Kremlin Museum in Moscow.
The exhibition at Kremlin Museum, titled “The Duel: From Trial by Combat to a Noble Crime”, was set to open this month. It was set to feature artworks that explored the dueling traditions from the 16th and 17th centuries. Since early 2020, the museum was in talks with various European institutions for lending of artworks, which was finalized in February 2021.
France had contributed 15 artworks, the most for any country. The artworks came from renowned institutions like the Louvre, French National Library, and the Versailles Museum. However, in light of Russia’s deteriorating relations with the art community since its invasion of Ukraine, the French government decided to recall its loan from the exhibition. The decision came a day after an informal meeting between various European ministries of arts and culture. Roselyne Bachelot (Minister of Culture, France) said: “Our presence could have been exploited as a sign of a divergence between European countries.” However, she added that they were not permanently cutting ties from the Kremlin Museum.
Soon after France’s announcement, the Kremlin Museum announced that the exhibition was getting indefinitely postponed. It also gave other lenders an option to renounce their involvement. This was the latest in the series of “cultural sanctions” against Russia since the invasion began. At the same time, art institutions within Russia are also protesting against the war in various capacities. It is not yet apparent if these “sanctions” are having any impact on Russia, as the war goes on unabated.