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Degas 19th C painting ‘Russian Dancers’ renamed for Ukraine

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Degas painting has been renamed Ukrainian Dancers due to recent Russian’s military offensive. AFP

Degas 19th C painting ‘Russian Dancers’ renamed for Ukraine

London's National Gallery said Monday it had renamed a painting by Edgar Degas from “Russian Dancers” to “Ukrainian Dancers” following Moscow’s military offensive.

The Kremlin’s war on its western neighbour has impacted far beyond politics and diplomacy, prompting sporting boycotts, as well as fallout in arts and culture.

The National Gallery confirmed in a statement to AFP that it had updated the title of the French impressionist’s artwork “to better reflect the subject of the painting”.

The pastel and charcoal piece, produced at the end of the 19th century, is part of its main collection, but not currently on display.

It depicts three members of a troupe dancing in a field wearing blue and yellow ribbons – the national colours of Ukraine – but had long been known as “Russian”.

The National Gallery notes on its website that “it is almost certain that these visiting dancers, and those drawn by Degas, were Ukrainian, rather than Russian”.

A spokesperson for the gallery told The Guardian newspaper, which first reported the change, that its title had been “an ongoing point of discussion for many years”.

“However, there has been increased focus on it over the past month due to the current situation, so therefore we felt it was an appropriate moment to update the painting’s title.”

Tanya Kolotusha, a Ukrainian living in London who was among those to complain about the painting’s name on social media, welcomed the renaming.

“It’s important to return our cultural heritage and to give it (its) rightful name,” she told AFP, adding that Ukrainian culture had “suffered from Russian politics for centuries”.

The West’s response to the offensive, including sanctions and cultural boycotts, prompted Russian President Vladimir Putin last month to claim his country suffers from “discrimination”.

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