Visiting the Louvre and looking for good reading material
April 18, 2017 6:43 AM   Subscribe

I will soon be visiting the Louvre and would love suggestions of some engaging books - nonfiction or fiction - about artists whose work is at the Louvre, particular works of art, artistic movements, the Louvre itself - anything, really. My goal is to make my experience more memorable and engaging. I like all types of books so all recommendations are welcome!
posted by Shebear to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Julian Barnes' History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters contains an excellent essay on Gericault's Raft of the Medusa. I think it must be the same as this piece in the New Yorker but it's in the archive so paywalled.
posted by crocomancer at 7:33 AM on April 18

Not a book, but I found the documentary The Man Who Saved The Louvre to be a fascinating story I had never heard before.
posted by fairmettle at 8:41 AM on April 18

This article from the Telegraph gives you a good overview of tips on what to see and how to navigate the trip and collections best, and it mentions that the official A Guide to the Louvre (€17 in the bookshop at the Louvre or at their online shop here) is probably the best single-volume guide you can comfortably take with you inside.

I also found this Open University course on the Louvre itself that's free and sounds like it perfectly dovetails with your interests.
posted by mdonley at 8:49 AM on April 18 [1 favorite]

The Memoirs of Madame Vigée Le Brun may be of interest if you like her paintings there.
posted by Wobbuffet at 11:01 AM on April 18 [1 favorite]

One irreverent novel that you might like just as pure fun is Christopher Moore's Sacre Bleu: A Comedy d'Art...

It is follows the mystery of Vincent van Gogh's apparent suicide as well as the mystery of creating art and artistic passion.

It described as “…a surreal odyssey and brothel-crawl deep into the art world of late-nineteenth century Paris, and the one, the only, Christopher Moore cooks up a delectable confection of intrigue, passion, and art history…”
posted by calgirl at 2:03 PM on April 18

There's a big Vermeer exhibition right now so I'd suggest Tracy Chevalier's Girl with a Pearl Earring. The movie featuring Black Widow and Mr Darcy is pretty good too. I know that the Girl is at the Mauritshuis but the Louvre has the Astronomer and the Lacemaker.
posted by elgilito at 2:12 AM on April 19

Since the Louvre is pretty much a repository of the entirety of Western civilization (up to about 1850ish, after that you have to go to the Orsay) there are just SO many books about it (the antiquities, the paintings and the building itself). My favorite single volume is Paintings in the Louvre by Laurence Gowing (1987). It's a great primer to the museum. It's a huge book and now out of print, but you can easily find a used copy for next to nothing (I've seen the book being offered at less than it's shipping cost).

Maps, audio guides, etc. are available at the museum. Basically everyone starts in the Denon Wing and it takes all but five minutes to see Winged Victory, the Venus de Milo and the Mona Lisa (there's even signage directly to the Mona Lisa).

As elgilito pointed out the Louvre currently has a Vermeer exhibition. Whatever you do, don't miss the tiny Lacemaker, it's my favorite painting of all time ;)
posted by codex99 at 6:23 PM on April 19

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