Italy returns to Mexico about 600 paintings illegally stolen

Italy officially returned to Mexico 594 ex-voto paintings illegally stolen from the Mexican cultural heritage and exported to the European country, in a ceremony held in the Sala della Crociera of the Ministry for Cultural Assets and Activities in Rome.

“It is an extraordinary symbol of respect for the culture of another country that we restore” these almost 600 works, said the Secretary of Culture of Mexico , Alejandra Frausto Guerrero, after the act of delivery in which he participated together with his Italian colleague , Alberto Bonisoli.

The recovery is the result of an investigation aimed at combating the international illicit trafficking of cultural heritage, carried out by the body of Carabinieros for the protection of cultural heritage, after an investigation in an exhibition held in Milan.

The works, which were taken between 1960 and 1970 from various places of worship in Mexico, were identified and seized, in June 2016, two Italian museums where they had arrived as a result of a donation from a well-known Milanese collector, meanwhile deceased.

“It is a beginning of very deep relationships, to put in visibility that heritage that is illegally removed from a country,” said the secretary of Mexican Culture.

He pointed out that “restoring almost 600 pieces that come from popular culture, that tell stories that for many people represent miracles, is an extraordinary act, almost like those that narrate ex-votos”.

The Secretary of State expressed her “absolute recognition” to the body of Carabinieros of the tutelage of cultural heritage, which searches the cultural markets where these pieces are found.

The works, anonymous, that were made as thanks for some grace granted and almost always for “private reasons”, as the Italian minister Bonisoli pointed out, are assets of popular art.

“A popular art that puts at the center of people a very particular narrative and that undoubtedly was an inspiration for another type of painting, such as Frida Kahlo or Hermenegildo Bustos , a great Mexican portraitist who also painted votive offerings”, said Frausto.

The paintings, mostly of small size, were exhibited on the occasion of the delivery ceremony, among the thousands of volumes of books in the Sala della Crociera.

Later, this heritage “will be safeguarded and will be made known in Mexico in its own place to return it to society, because it is an art that comes from the communities,” said the Mexican secretary, who cited the Viceroyalty Museum of the capital as a possible place of exhibition before starting a tour of the North American country.

Source: EFE, noticieros.televisa

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