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The history of the Louvre

I'm curious, I don't really appreciate art (I probably smile more at Dogs Playing Poker than at the Mona Lisa) but when I was at the Vatican I loved our tour because the guide focused on the history behind the art and the corruption of the Vatican that started the Reformation. What tours are available at the Louvre that focus on the history behind the art. Also, are there any tours that focus on the Louvre's history as a Palace instead of an art museum?

Posted by
5152 posts

What a great question! I do love art, but would also love the kind of tours Allan is suggesting.

Posted by
5648 posts

As a possibility, check out Paris Muse, www.parismuse.com . We’ve taken several tours with them, all excellent. One focuses on the architecture and history of the Louvre, a former fortress and palace. They also have a “Quest” tour, an interactive mission where you look for things. Tours are led by fun art history professors and grad students, so they know their stuff.

Posted by
10124 posts

We took a Paris Muse tour (private) and the guide did just that!

Posted by
4684 posts

If you can read French, the Routard Paris guidebook has a self-guided tour of the historic highlights of the Louvre.

Posted by
15058 posts

Bets beat me to it :-) I printed out that "thematic trail" and enjoyed it very much. The only 'negative" comment I have is that while it takes you past most of the highlights of the museum collections, it doesn't ever mention them, so if you aren't familiar with them, you might miss them. It's a good idea to rent the a/v guide. You can pick it up at the entrance to any of the 3 wings. I leave my driver's license at a deposit - do remember which kiosk you get it from so you know where to return it to retrieve your ID.

Do look around you as you go through the museum. For instance in the gallery with the Mona Lisa, there is an enormous painting on one wall that is much more interesting. I recently read that that only reason the ML is so famous is because it was stolen some 100 years ago which gave it notoriety when it was recovered. So you may have a better appreciation of art than you think!

What was the tour you took at the Vatican. It sounds like something I'd like to do on my next visit to Rome, whenever that is.

Posted by
2424 posts

What was the tour you took at the Vatican. It sounds like something
I'd like to do on my next visit to Rome, whenever that is.

Chani, we took a tour through 'Through Eternity Tours', our guide had a PHD in Art History and was very interesting. I suspect though, that she made the tour based on her interests and the itinerary wasn't set in stone by the tour company.

I recently read that that only reason the ML is so famous is because
it was stolen some 100 years ago which gave it notoriety when it was
recovered. So you may have a better appreciation of art than you
think!

This is exactly the kind of information I appreciate more on an art tour. I did know this story, but most of what I hear about the Mona Lisa is the brilliance of the background detail of the painting behind Mona Lisa which isn't really my thing.

Posted by
672 posts

In today's NY Times - It’s Time to Take Down the Mona Lisa

Yet the Louvre is being held hostage by the Kim Kardashian of 16th-century Italian portraiture: the handsome but only moderately interesting Lisa Gherardini, better known (after her husband) as La Gioconda, whose renown so eclipses her importance that no one can even remember how she got famous in the first place.

Posted by
8512 posts

Actually a young painter named Picasso and his poet/essayist friend, Appollinaire, were accused of the Mona Lisa theft. It was quite the scandal. They didn’t do it, but the fact that they used to borrow and return statues from other museums to study for sketching didn’t help their case.

Posted by
5648 posts

Yet Mona inspired a book title for Rick Steves. Maybe his follow-up publication could be titled, “Mona Snickers to Herself.”