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This report is taken from PN Review 112, Volume 23 Number 2, November - December 1996.

Actual Emblems Lawrence Sail

Of what occasion this year has it been written that it 'will advance the cause of worldwide culture - establishing a sense of mutual trust and helping us all to address our disagreements through constructive dialogue… rather than through confrontation'? That 'history, in its unpredictable way, has in this instance conducted a unique experiment'? And that 'it is capable of provoking feelings not unlike those experienced by the relatives of an inmate released from jail after many years of incarceration'? Would it help to know that 'guns were still firing when Soviet troops began to discover these bunkers'? Or that, in the words of one of the people involved, 'I was lucky enough to get inside Special Storage thirty years ago. This was a blatant violation of the régime's directives…'? These bold, not to say dramatic remarks come from the foreword, preface and introduction to the catalogue of Hidden Treasures Revealed, the exhibition at the Hermitage of seventy-four paintings, mainly Impressionist but including Corot, Courbet and Daumier, as well as works by Rouault, Picasso and Matisse. Visiting St Petersburg for the first time in March, thirty years to the month after the death of Anna Akhmatova, I was just in time to see them - and memorable they certainly were, beginning with five wonderful Fantin-Latour flower pictures, and continuing with such riches as Renoir's 'In a Garden', Van Gogh's 'The White House at Night', two wonderful Monet paintings of gardens, amongst others too numerous to list here. As the ...


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