Italy Covers Up Nude Statues to Protect Business Meeting with Iran

Michelangelo's David was left on view.

Pope Francis (C) and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (L) exchange gifts during their private audience Photo: ANDREW MEDICHINI/AFP/Getty Images
Pope Francis (C) and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (L) exchange gifts during their private audience
Photo: ANDREW MEDICHINI/AFP/Getty Images
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (C-L) meets with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi (C-R) at the Capitol Hill in Rome <br> Photo: TIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty Images)

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (left) meets with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi at the Capitoline Museum in Rome
Photo: TIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty Images

News that the Italian authorities covered classical nude sculpture to avoid causing offense to the visiting Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani, were met with amusement in some parts of the world. However, some Italian politicians were incensed.

Rouhani was visiting Italy to finalize and announce a series of business deals worth €17 billion ($18billion) between Italian companies and Iran in the wake of sanctions lifted following the nuclear deal. The joint announcement with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi took place on Monday at the Capitoline Museum in Rome, after the billion-dollar agreement was signed.

In an effort to fit in with the Rouhani’s beliefs, some of the priceless classical statues in the museum were boxed up and hidden from view.

Journalist Josephine McKenna posted an image of the hidden nude sculptures on Twitter:

Not everyone was happy with the decision to cover up the historical works of art, as some felt it was hiding an intrinsic part of Italian culture in order to secure a business deal.

“You can not hide your culture, your religion or history itself. It was the wrong decision,” said Giuliano Volpe, head of the Superior Council for Cultural Heritage at the Italian culture ministry, to public broadcaster Rai3. “We must enhance […] respect and differences,” he added.

Pope Francis (C) and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (L) exchange gifts during their private audience Photo: ANDREW MEDICHINI/AFP/Getty Images

Pope Francis and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani exchange gifts during their private audience
Photo: ANDREW MEDICHINI/AFP/Getty Images

In respect of the president’s traditional Muslim views, alcohol was not served at his honorary dinner with Renzi and Italian President Sergio Mattarella, reportedly in contrast to how things will be dealt with in France according to the Huffington Post where a meal will not be served as president Hollande declined a request for a wine-free lunch as it would compromise French laicité, the strict absence of religious involvement in government affairs.

Rouhani also visited the Vatican while in Rome and met with Pope Francis. The two men discussed their shared spiritual values and exchanges gifts, as stated in a report from the Vatican, according to the Guardian.

Despite the lengths gone to by powers that be in Italy to stay in keeping with the religious sensibilities of the Iranian President, Michelangelo’s David, perhaps the world’s most famous sculpture was left on view, the Guardian reports.


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