Books

Atlantic Monthly Press
Atlantic Monthly Press
Atlantic Monthly Press
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The Louvre

The Many Lives of the World’s Most Famous Museum

by James Gardner

The fascinating and little-known story of the Louvre, from its inception as a humble fortress to its transformation into the palatial residence of the kings of France and then into the world’s greatest art museum

  • Imprint Atlantic Monthly Press
  • Page Count 416
  • Publication Date May 05, 2020
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-4877-3
  • Dimensions 6" x 9"
  • US List Price $30.00
  • Imprint Atlantic Monthly Press
  • Publication Date May 05, 2020
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-4879-7
  • US List Price $30.00

Some nine million people from all over the world flock to the Louvre each year to enjoy its incomparable art collection. Yet few of them are aware of the remarkable history of that place and of the buildings themselves—a fascinating story that historian James Gardner elegantly chronicles in the first full-length history of the Louvre in English.

More than 7,000 years ago, men and women camped on a spot called le Louvre for reasons unknown; a clay quarry and a vineyard supported a society there in the first centuries AD. A thousand years later, King Philippe Auguste of France constructed a fortress there in 1191, just outside the walls of a city far smaller than the Paris we know today. Intended to protect the capital against English soldiers stationed in Normandy, the fortress became a royal residence under Charles V two centuries later, and then the monarchy’s principal residence under the great Renaissance king François I in 1546. It remained so until 1682, when Louis XIV moved his entire court to Versailles. Thereafter the fortunes of the Louvre languished until the tumultuous days of the French Revolution when, during the Reign of Terror in 1793, it first opened its doors to display the nation’s treasures. Ever since—through the Napoleonic era, the Commune, two World Wars, to the present—the Louvre has been a witness to French history, and expanded to become home to a legendary collection, including such masterpieces as the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo, whose often-complicated and mysterious origins form a spectacular narrative that rivals the building’s grand stature.

Praise for The Louvre:

“With its fast-moving and rich narrative, this truly excellent book needed to be written: the fascinating and turbulent story of the Louvre as a royal palace has been largely eclipsed by its much shorter and more famous life as a museum. Here both parts of its long history have been splendidly recounted.”—Philippe de Montebello, Director Emeritus, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

Praise for Buenos Aires:

“Excellent . . . A treasure for those who have visited the city or plan to soon.”New Criterion

“You come away from Buenos Aires with a strong desire to visit Buenos Aires―or if you already have, to return and see all the things that escaped your notice.”Weekly Standard

“Gardner has written a love story for the second largest city in South America, and his account should be required reading for city planners, architecture students, or those who are interested in how a city goes from humble beginnings to the ‘Paris of the South.’”Library Journal

“A genial historical tour conducted by an affectionate docent with a keen eye.”Kirkus Reviews