Page last updated at 14:26 GMT, Thursday, 27 November 2008

Royal Academy hails Russian hit

From Russia poster outside the Royal Academy of Arts
The exhibition was open for 12 weeks earlier this year

An art exhibition which was threatened by a row between the UK and Russia became one of the Royal Academy of Art's most successful exhibitions.

Almost 400,000 people visited From Russia when it opened at the London venue earlier this year.

The exhibition was almost scrapped over Russian authorities' fears the art could be seized while on British soil.

Chief executive Charles Saumarez Smith said cancelling the event could have sent the RA into the financial "abyss".

He said: "It is clearer to me now than before I started that the exhibitions are what generates the income, not just in terms of ticket sales but the shop and restaurant."

ROYAL ACADEMY OF ARTS 2009
Italian architect Andrea Palladio (31 Jan - 13 Apr)
Japanese artist Utagawa Kuniyoshi (21 Mar - 7 June)
Painter J W Waterhouse (27 June - 13 Sept)
Turner Prize winner Anish Kapoor (19 Sept- 13 Dec)
Sculptors Jacob Epstein, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska and Eric Gill (24 Oct - 24 Jan 2010)

When asked what would have happened if the event had not gone ahead, he said: "Use your imagination."

From Russia: French and Russian Master Paintings opened at the Royal Academy of Arts in January after a diplomatic row between the UK and Russia.

Russia's culture agency had blocked the export of the paintings to the venue until a law guaranteeing their safety was implemented.

It feared the paintings could be seized because of disputes about their ownership.

Some of the exhibition's 120 paintings - which included work by Picasso, Kandinsky, Mattisse and Renoir - were taken from private collections after Russia's 1917 revolution.

The "immunity from seizure" legislation was rushed through parliament just a month before the exhibition opened, meaning descendants of the original owners could not bring forward their claims on British soil.

The Royal Academy's report said: "A triumphant success, From Russia was packed with visitors from its first day to its last, including special arrangements for evening visiting at weekends.

"Just under 400,000 visitors attended throughout the run, making the exhibition one of the most successful in Britain during the year and one of the most successful in the Royal Academy's history."

The Royal Academy also confirmed plans for next year's exhibitions, including the works of Italian architect Andrea Palladio, Turner Prize winner Anish Kapoor, and an event dedicated to sculptors Jacob Epstein, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska and Eric Gill.

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