Russia’s Hermitage museum demands return of paintings on loan to Italy

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Russia's Hermitage museum is seeking the return from Italy of a painting by Pablo Picasso it loaned, a Rome museum confirmed Thursday.

The Hermitage, based in St. Petersburg, Russia, has also reportedly requested the return of other paintings on loan in Italy. The Italian media is casting this as a response to Italy's criticism of Russia's role in the Ukraine crisis.

An official at Rome's Fondazione Alda Fendi said that The Hermitage has requested the return of "Young Woman," a Picasso work from 1909. The painting, which had never been exhibited in Italy before, was due to be on display until May 15.

The official did not say how the foundation would respond to the request.

According to Italian media reports, the Hermitage has also made similar requests for other paintings it has on loan in Italy, most notably the exhibition at Milan's Gallerie d'Italia called "Grand Tour: Dream of Italy from Venice to Pompeii." Set to run until March 27, the exhibition has been jointly organized with The Hermitage. 

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