Israelis look at "The Annunciation of San Martino alla Scala" displayed at the Israel Museum on September 17, 2013
Israelis look at a detail of Renaissance master Botticelli's "The Annunciation of San Martino alla Scala" displayed at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem on September 17, 2013. © Gali Tibbon - AFP
Israelis look at
AFP
Last updated: September 17, 2013

Botticelli shown at Israel museum after near delay

A famous painting by Renaissance master Botticelli went on display Tuesday at the Israel Museum after diplomatic efforts that assured Italian authorities the fresco would be safe.

Earlier this month Italy said it would delay the loan to Israel of "The Annunciation of San Martino alla Scala" with the culture ministry in Rome saying the timing was "not appropriate"

Italy's decision coincided with regional tensions that soared in anticipation of possible US military action in Syria, now prevented following Saturday's US-Russian deal on Syria's chemical arsenal.

Then earlier this week the museum announced that the Botticelli -- the first to go on display in Israel -- would be arriving on schedule.

A spokesman for Israeli Culture Minister Limor Livnat told AFP the minister did all she could to convince her Italian counterpart that "there was no danger in bringing the artwork, and the Israel Museum had all the necessary conditions to safeguard it."

According to a museum spokeswoman, the near-delay was not due to regional tensions but rather a matter of conservation.

Painted in 1481, the work was intended for the hospital of San Martino alla Scala in Florence.

After suffering heavy damage, it was transferred to a Florentine workshop in 1920 for restoration.

Speaking at Tuesday's opening, Israel Museum director James Snyder said the fresco had a deep connection to the Holy Land since the annunciation story took place in Nazareth, and "the landscape in the fresco is the landscape of this ancient land."

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