The Vatican is to send 40 works of art to China in a cultural exchange amid signs that attempts at rapprochement between the two powers are faltering.

The Vatican museums, home to the Sistine chapel and countless other works of importance, and the China Culture Industrial Investment Fund (CCIIF) announced the exchange initiative in Rome this week. Simultaneous exhibitions will open in March in the Forbidden City in Beijing and the Vatican’s Anima Mundi Museum.

The Vatican is sending 39 works from its collection of Chinese art to be selected by curators. The 40th object, which has yet to be chosen, will be western European Christian. Beijing is offering paintings from the contemporary Chinese artist Zhang Yan among the 40 works it is contributing. It is the first time the Vatican museums and a Chinese cultural institution have collaborated. Read more