China Expo: French pavilion unveils art masterpieces

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The Independent Online

Seven masterpieces from the renowned Orsay Museum in Paris were unveiled Wednesday at the French pavilion ahead of the opening of Shanghai's World Expo on May 1.

The works of art - six paintings and one sculpture - were carefully pulled out of wooden crates that had travelled from France as a high-level official from the museum and Chinese customs employees looked on.

"It was very important for us not to display only virtual things," Jose Freches, the French Pavilion's commissioner general, told AFP.

"These works of art... will be an added asset for the French pavilion."

They include paintings by artists Jean-Francois Millet, Edouard Manet, Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin and Paul Cezanne, and a sculpture by Auguste Rodin.

Officials at the pavilion had expressed concern that the masterpieces would not arrive on time for the opening of the Expo, expected to attract 70 million visitors, due to travel disruptions caused by Iceland's volcanic eruption.

'The Angelus' by Millet, which depicts a farming couple praying in a field as dusk falls, had already been exhibited at the World Expo in Paris in 1867.

'The Age of Bronze," a life-size nude male by Rodin, was displayed at the 1889 and 1900 World Expos.

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