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Painter Ilya Repin’s canvas damaged by vandal at Moscow museum not insured

May 28, 21:25 UTC+3

The previous incident where the painting was damaged occurred in 1913

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MOSCOW, May 28. /TASS/. The painting ‘Ivan the Terrible and His Son’ by the classical Russian realistic painter Ilya Repin, which a drunk vandal damaged on Sunday, was not insured, Tatiana Gorodkova, the chief curator of the Tretyakov Arts Gallery told reporters on Monday.

"Like all the canvasses kept in our gallery, ‘Ivan the Terrible and His Son’ wasn’t insured because Russian legislation doesn’t require it," she said. "Insurance policies are needed only for the paintings taken to other countries for exhibitions."

"At present, Culture Ministry requires that museums obtain insurance policies for the exhibits taken outside of the museum compounds, and the budgets have an item on this," Mirko Mudrinich, the chief of the department for insuring exhibits and valuable cargoes at Ingosstrakh insurance company told TASS. "There’s no such requirement for the exhibits kept in depositaries and hence there are no budgetary provisions […]," for insuring of this kind.

For this reason, the majority of state-owned museums do not insure the works of art they have on permanent display and confine their insuring strategies to exhibitions abroad, a senior expert from Absolut Strakhovaniye company said, adding that the insuring of paintings on permanent display would be rather expensive.

"They can find the monies for this, of course, but to do this they should compute the cost of each exhibit in the collection and estimate a number of other factors," he said.

Mirko Mudrinich did not rule out that some museums had secured their sponsors’ assistance and had obtained insurance for their exhibits already.

"In the West, museums have the instruments that enable them to insure the prime losses," he said. "This means they insure for a certain amount all the accidents that have occurred to the exhibits in their collections but they don’t insure the whole collections as such."

"In Russia, the discussions on this still continue," Mudrinich said.

Reports on an incident in Moscow’s Tretyakov Gallery, the world-famous collection of Russian arts from the 11th century through to the 21st century reached the police in the evening of Friday, May 25. A malefactor had smashed the glass protecting Ilya Repin’s canvas ‘Ivan the Terrible and His Son Ivan on November 16, 1581’ with a metal pole, which supported a rope fencing around the picture.

He also damaged the canvas in three spots. Besides, the falling fragments of the protective glass damaged the frame designed by Repin personally.

The 37-year-old man, a resident of the city of Voronezh who was detained in this connection, explained for his action by saying the scene displayed in the painting ran counter to established historical facts.

Ilya Repin, one of the most remarkable members of the Russian realistic school of painting, created the painting from 1883 through 1885. It shows a grief-stricken czar cradling his eldest son Ivan, a successor to the Russian throne. Ivan the senior has just smashed his son’s head fatally after a row over alleged misconduct of the prince’s wife Yelena.

The traditional conviction that the czar killed his son in a spate of wrath received support from the Russian historians in the first half of the 19th century. Contemporary experts, however, call this act of filicide into question.

The previous incident where the painting was damaged occurred in January 1913. Abram Balashov, a 29 year-old icon painter from among the disciples of the so-called Russian Church of the Old Rite, struck the canvas three times with a knife, after which Repin had to repaint the faces of the czar and the prince.

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