THE LOUVRE by James Gardner

The Boston Globe Reviews THE LOUVRE by James Gardner

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In the Thursday, May 7th issue of The Boston Globe in a combined review titled “Worlds of wonder in ‘The Louvre’ and ‘The Museum of Whales You Will Never See,'” novelist and former Seattle Times book critic Michael Upchurch reviewed the book alongside A. Kendra Greene’s The Museum of Whales You Will Never See: And Other Excursions to Iceland’s Most Unusual Museums, writing :

Gardner’s book will be an eye-opener to some readers (I’m one of them) who take the Louvre for granted as a semi-eternal and unchanging part of Paris’s cultural furniture. Just the fact that it first opened its doors as a public art museum smack in the middle of the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror may be news to you. But the surprises don’t stop there. ...In recounting this history, Gardner makes every phase and transformation vivid. He reminds us that as recently as the early 19th century, you could step out of the Grande Galerie and find yourself “standing on a steep and irregular sandy beach” that descended to the waters of the Seine. Gardner’s minutiae on architectural detail can be dense going at times, but the human stories and accounts of art acquisitions he digs up are fascinating. Many of the museum’s most cherished holdings by French artists, he notes, were painted in the Louvre itself when portions of the building were home to artists’ studios. ...Gardner helps readers keep France’s tangled royal and republican lines of succession clear by always contextualizing key figures as needed, and his daunting cultural erudition is equally user-friendly. His writing is shrewd and witty, and even catty when it comes to architectural “improvements” that draw his displeasure. Anyone curious about how the Louvre evolved into its present configuration will find this diligent book richly informative.

The Louvre: The Many Lives of the World’s Most Famous Museum by James Gardner is published by Atlantic Monthly Press in North America and Atlantic Books in the UK.

James Gardner is an American art critic and literary critic based in New York and Buenos Aires. He is the author of six books, including Buenos Aires: The Biography of a City. His writings have appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the New Republic, and the British Spectator. He was the art critic at the New York Post and wrote architecture criticism for the New York Observer, before serving as the architecture critic at the New York Sun. He is now a contributing editor at The Magazine Antiques.