The Louvre: The Many Lives of the World’s Most Famous Museum

Atlantic Monthly. May 2020. 416p. ISBN 9780802148773. $30. FINE ARTS
Gardner (Buenos Aires) charts the progress of the Louvre in this comprehensive text. Starting as a fortress in the Middle Ages, the Louvre became a royal residence under Charles V and then the French monarch’s primary abode under Renaissance king François I. In the late 17th century, when Louis XIV abandoned the estate and moved to the Palace of Versailles, the Louvre was used to house the five great académies of France, including the Académie Royale de Peintre et de Sculpture and the Académie Française, finally opening as a museum in 1793 during the French Revolution. From here, the progression of the Louvre’s art collecting is examined from the treasures plundered during Napoleon Bonaparte’s military campaigns as well as works acquired from archaeological excavations, donations from collectors, and savvy purchases by the museum’s curators. A detailed, clearly marked floor plan helps readers navigate the different wings of this enormous and complicated building from the Louvre’s days as a palace under various rulers to those as a museum.
VERDICT Recommended for readers interested in the history of France, the history of architecture, and museology.

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