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Last Updated: Saturday, 26 January 2008, 12:07 GMT
Russia art show opens to public
Matisse's The Dance
Matisse's The Dance is the centrepiece of the show

An exhibition of treasured artworks from Russia which nearly failed to make it to the UK has opened in London.

The show, which is at the Royal Academy of Arts until 18 April, was threatened after the Russians were concerned some of the works could be seized.

The collection contains some works taken from private owners after the 1917 Russian Revolution.

A law giving immunity from seizure to cultural artefacts lent from abroad was pushed through by the government.

Highlight

The Russian authorities gave the loan of the paintings their final approval earlier this month after "maximum possible assurances" were given by the UK that they would not be threatened with legal claims from the original owners' descendants.

Some of the collection, which features work by Renoir, Cezanne, Picasso and Van Gogh, has never been seen in the UK.

One of the highlights is Matisse's The Dance, which was painted during a period when the artist's work was misunderstood.

It is hoped the exhibition will attract some 500,000 visitors.

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