Russia Will Allow Artwork to Go to London Exhibit

Paintings from Russian museums will be permitted to go to London for a major exhibition after British legislation protecting art from seizure comes into force, the Federal Culture and Cinematography Agency said.

The exhibition, "From Russia: French and Russian Master Paintings 1870-1925," is scheduled to open at The Royal Academy on Jan. 26. But the exhibit was cast in doubt after the Russian agency said British laws did not adequately protect art from seizure in connection with private legal claims.

James Purnell, head of Britain's culture department, responded Thursday by saying Britain would move up the effective date of a provision in new legislation to bar seizure of art loaned on a government-to-government basis. The provision, due to come into force in late February, would now become effective on or about Jan. 7.

Culture agency spokeswoman Natalya Uvarova said Friday that her office would issue licenses for the paintings to go to London after the British law came into force.

The agency's chief, Mikhail Shvydkoi, said earlier in the week that descendants of two prominent 19th- and early 20th-century Russian art patrons and collectors, Sergei Shchukin and Ivan Morozov, had not ruled out legal action. Among the works are masterpieces from their collections, which were seized by the state after the Bolshevik Revolution.