One of the largest international loans for the National Gallery’s long-awaited Raphael exhibition has been cancelled. The Holy Familywhich belongs to the Hermitage Museum of Russia, is based in St. Petersburg due to the war in Ukraine.

A spokesperson for the London gallery said The arts journal“Due to the situation that arose due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Raphael The Holy Family, in the collection of the Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg, no longer included in The Credit Suisse exhibition: Raphael.

“The painting had long been offered protection under UK immunity from seizure legislation, but earlier this week it was omitted from the National Gallery’s list of works from overseas for Raphael. This was presumably done after consultations with Arts Council England, which administers the immunity system on behalf of the UK’s Department of Culture.

A spokesperson for the National Gallery explained that the withdrawal of the loan request “was a decision we took last week and therefore has nothing to do with the Hermitage requesting the repayment of the loans”.

This seems to be a problem in the current situation where the Russian and British governments agree: there should be no international loans of works of art between Russia and the West as long as the war in Ukraine continues.

The Hermitage is a state museum and has now been asked by the Russian Ministry of Culture to stop loans and to recall works of art that are currently on loan.To add to the problems, direct air connections between Russia and Europe and North America have been suspended, making it impossible to transport the artworks safely.

The Holy Family (c. 1506-07) depicts a pensive Joseph with Mary holding the Christ child, set in an interior with a landscape beyond. The chiaroscuro modeling suggests the influence of Leonardo da Vinci on the young Raphael. It was painted in Florence, possibly for Guidobaldo, Duke of Urbino. The painting was acquired by Catherine the Great in 1772.

The National Gallery’s ambitious Raphael exhibition was originally due to open in October 2020, but was delayed by Covid-19. It is now scheduled to run from April 9 to July 31. The National Gallery still expects to show 17 paintings by Raphael from international lenders (as well as those from UK collections), including 8 from Italy, 4 from France , 3 from the United States and 2 from Germany.