Handout picture of a painting on loan at the Kremlin Museum for an exhibition postponed after the Russian invasion of Ukraine and has now been returned to Prado Museum | MUSEO NACIONAL DEL PRADO


The Kremlin Museum has returned a painting to Spain's Prado gallery and several suits of armour that were loaned for an exhibition postponed after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, two sources from Spanish institutions said on Monday.

The 1605 painting, a full-length portrait of Emperor Charles V by Juan Pantoja de la Cruz, and a collection including armour that the king wore in the painting were returned with the "full cooperation" of the Russian museum, the sources said. The armour is usually on display at Madrid's Royal Palace armoury.

The Prado museum and armoury declined to comment about the return of the pieces. Last week, Spain's culture minister said the government had asked for the works to be returned in protest at the war.

The Moscow Kremlin Museums postponed the exhibition, "The Duel: from Trial by Combat to a Noble Crime," from the scheduled opening on 4 March 2022. The exhibition was to have included exhibits from several European museums, it said on its website.

"The Moscow Kremlin Museums are currently working on making the exhibition happen without European participation," the Russian body said on its website.

Such exhibitions are planned more than a year in advance, one of the Spanish sources Reuters spoke to said.

The Spanish institutions coordinated the returns with the British Royal Armouries Museum, the Louvre Museum and the French National Library, which had also had loaned pieces, the other source added.

Reuters could not immediately establish if the British and French pieces had also arrived in their home countries.

Spain's National Heritage, the body which handles Spain's royal sites and collections, loaned several pieces, including a suit of armour designed to be worn by a greyhound - a pet of the king, and another worn by Philip III when he was a child. All the pieces have been returned, the sources said.

The painting and armour left Russia on March 12, and travelled by land via Finland, Germany and France, they said.

In another sign of broader tensions caused by the war in Ukraine, two museums in Milan said earlier this month they would return several works of art on loan from Russia.