European institutions have pulled their loans from a Moscow exhibition commemorating duels’ history.

The show at the Moscow Kremlin Museums was effectively postponed indefinitely after museums in the United Kingdom, France, Austria, and Spain returned their Fast Cash Loan – Ipass works.

After institutions in France, Spain, Austria, and the United Kingdom withdrew their loans of artworks in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a major exhibition about the history of dueling at the government Moscow Kremlin Museums has been postponed.

The Duel: From Trial by Combat to Noble Crime was supposed to contain loans from 10 European museums (including organizations in Paris, Leeds, Madrid, and Vienna) as well as Queen Elizabeth II, but all of them have withdrawn their loans due to Russia’s involvement in Ukraine.

According to Le Monde, the Palace of Versailles had loaned three paintings. The National Library of France had sent seven works on paper and the Musée du Louvre had loaned six masterpieces and 2 historic pistols for the exhibition, which was supposed to open on March 4 but has now been postponed indefinitely.

“Our participation could have been interpreted as a sign of European division. There was no question of distancing ourselves [from the other European lenders],” a spokesperson for French Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot told Le Monde of the decision to remove the works from French archives. They added that interactions with the Kremlin Museums went “without any evidence of hostility.”

According to a notice on the Kremlin Museums’ website, European museums lending items for the exhibition “were compelled to withdraw them before the deadline due to the geopolitical circumstances.” The museum is “now planning to let the exhibition to take place without European participation.” 

Several Russian institutions were also identified as participants, including the National Library in St Petersburg, the Pushkin State Museum, and the State Historical Museum in Moscow.

The objects were expected to be relocated to and stored at the French embassy in Moscow in the aftermath of France canceling the loans already given to Russia. 

It was uncertain when French cultural specialists would be capable of reaching Moscow to repatriate the works due to current restrictions on international travel to Russia.

Objects leased for The Duel are the most recent pieces due to travel between Europe and Russia. They have already been returned by museums on both sides in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

The planned loan of Raphael’s The Holy Family (about 1506-07) from the State Hermitage Museum to the National Gallery of London for a major exhibition of the Renaissance master’s work was canceled last week.

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