By Michel Laclotte
Art historian, curator, and museum director Michel Laclotte has been on the leading edge of French cultural existence during the last part century. This casual autobiography sheds mild on his excellent profession with heat and directness. Highlights contain two decades as leader curator of portray and sculpture on the Musée du Louvre, heading the crew that created the Musée dOrsay, and taking the reins of the Louvre to steer the hassle that culminated within the museums transformation into the “Grand Louvre,” one of many worlds preeminent cultural attractions.
Raising the curtain on fifty years of Western artwork scholarship, intrigue, and success, Laclotte introduces a unprecedented solid of characters who set Frances cultural course within the postwar interval from Charles de Gaulle and André Malraux within the Fifties to François Mitterand within the Eighties and Nineteen Nineties. His tale overlaps with almost each significant scholarly determine in French artwork historical past of the final half-century, in addition to Laclottes mentors and associates all through and past Europe, from Roberto Longhi and Anthony Blunt to Sir John Pope-Hennessy and Millard Meiss. An incomparable testomony to a interval of seismic swap within the museum international, this quantity might be crucial studying for paintings global afficianados and all scholars of paintings and smooth culture.
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Additional resources for A Key to the Louvre
My hope is that those who could not be cited here will forgive me. 1 Learning the Trade Fifty years of my life have been devoted to art history and museums, and it would be natural to expect a detailed accounting of those decades. But for me to provide one, I would have to adopt the approach of a professional historian, which I am not, on top of which I lack the necessary perspective. Were you to ask my contemporaries about events in our field over the past half-century, their accounts would certainly differ from mine.
It was my first purchase immediately after the war, along with Charles Sterling’s book on the French primitives, a true masterpiece from 1942. Soon afterward I read Bernard Berenson, and for my own inventories used his “lists” from 1932, a repertory of Italian Renaissance paintings. I also bought, for their illustrations, the volumes in the precious Collection des Maîtres published by Braun. In the spring of 1946 in Brussels, after having gone to Bruges with my mother to visit my father’s grave, I saw an extraordinary exhibition of masterpieces from Dutch museums, including Vermeer’s View of Delft and The Letter, The Governors of the Almshouse and Lady Governors of the Almshouse by Frans Hals, and Rembrandt’s The Syndics of the Drapers’ Guild, all of which have remained indelibly etched in my memory.
He immediately recognized my sincere interest in provincial museums and hired me for his Inspection team. This was in 1952, and an exhibition of Venetian painting was planned for the following year. This position, needless to say, was unsalaried, though for me this wasn’t as problematic as it was for some. I was already on track: as an accepted student, I should have been able to find a position after defending my thesis. Unlike today, interns weren’t paid, and we had to find other sources of income to tide us over.