Italy delays sending 15th-century Botticelli to Israel over Syria threat


ROME (JTA) – Concerned by war clouds over Syria, Italy is holding off on loaning a 15th-century masterpiece by Renaissance painter Sandro Botticelli to Israel.

But citing the importance of cultural relations between the two countries, the Italian Culture Ministry said it would soon decide on a work of similar “high cultural and artistic” significance to send to Israel in its place.

Italy was to have shipped Botticelli’s “Annunciation of San Martino alla Scala” to Israel this week, where the work was to have been displayed at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem for several months starting Sept. 17 as part of celebrations for Israel’s 65th birthday.

A Culture Ministry communique released last week, on Rosh Hashanah, said that because of the situation in the region, the painting would not be sent this week as had been arranged.

The loan was organized by the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, where the painting is conserved, and the Italy-Israel Foundation for Culture and the Arts.

Italian Culture Minister Massimo Bray was scheduled to travel to Jerusalem for the inauguration of the exhibition, which also was to have been attended by Israeli Culture Minister Limor Livnat.

The “Annunciation” is a large fresco painted by Botticelli in 1481 on a wall at the hospital of San Martino alla Scala in Florence. It was removed from the wall in 1920 and transferred to the Uffizi, where it underwent restoration.


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