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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 October 2007, 15:15 GMT 16:15 UK
Russia's art safe for London show
Ilya Repin's Manifesto of October 17, 1905
Ilya Repin's revolutionary painting will be among the exhibits
Major works of art which have never been seen outside of Russia have been secured for a "blockbuster" exhibition at the Royal Academy in London.

French and Russian masterpieces, including The Dance by Matisse, were obtained from the country after assurances they would be returned.

Some of the art was taken from private collections after the 1917 revolution, leading to fears of seizure.

Gordon Brown and Vladimir Putin are to attend the show's opening in January.

Popular show

The Academy asked culture secretary James Purnell to send a "letter of comfort" to the Russian authorities confirming the 120 artworks would be returned to Russia after the exhibition.

UK legislation outlawing the seizure of art belonging to other countries is currently being put through parliament.

Pablo Picasso's Dryad
Pablo Picasso's Dryad is being loaned from The Hermitage

In 2005, the Russians announced that they would no longer lend any of their works of art abroad after 55 paintings were impounded in Switzerland due to a financial dispute.

The Royal Academy is predicting that its exhibition, From Russia: French and Russian Master Paintings 1870-1925 will prove as popular as its Monet show, which drew more than 800,000 visitors.

It will explore the links between French and Russian art during a period of rich artistic developments, including Impressionism.

Matisse's The Dance has never before been seen in the UK, while other works to be shown include Manifesto of October 17 by Ilya Repin and Portrait of Sergei Diaghilev by Leon Bakst, both Russian artists.

The exhibition is due to open on 26 January and runs until 18 April.

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