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Paris’s Louvre museum was the world’s most visited museum in 2014, keeping its place at the top of the international culture league. More than half of its 9.3 million visitors in 2014 were under 30, a statement said.

Some 100,000 more people visited the Louvre in 2014 than in 2013, a statement said Tuesday, flocking to see world-famous masterpieces like Leonardo da Vinci’s "Mona Lisa" and the ancient Greek "Winged Victory of Samothrace."

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The Louvre has announced the June 6, 2014 reopening of its newly restored and reinstalled 18th-Century Decorative Arts Galleries. One of the most comprehensive collections of 18th-century French decorative arts in world, this is the first time since 2005 that the collection is on view to the public. The 35 galleries—which span 23,000 square feet—display over 2,000 pieces in object-focused galleries and period-room settings. The new installation traces the evolution of French taste and the decorative arts, emphasize the major artisans and artists of the period, and highlight the renowned collectors and patrons of the era.

The exhibition design was conceived collaboratively by interior designer and French decorative-arts connoisseur Jacques Garcia and the curators in the Department of Decorative Arts under the direction of Marc Bascou. The architectural project management for the new galleries was entrusted to Michel Goutal, the Louvre’s senior historical monument architect, with technical assistance provided by the Louvre’s Department of Project Planning and Management.

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Mars and Venus was well-known to Nicolas Poussin scholars. But for more than a century, the oil on canvas was considered either a fake or a poor attempt by the French painter’s studio to imitate the style of the classicist master. It barely left the Louvre’s stock room.

Now new research led by Pierre Rosenberg, the director of the Louvre from 1994 to 2001, proves that Mars and Venus is indeed the real thing­–a discovery which makes it the 40th Poussin in the institution’s collection. The Figaro reports that under the piece’s darkened varnish, the conservation team in charge of a recent analysis discovered that the top of the canvas had been cut off, and the removed strips used to enlarge the piece horizontally.

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The Louvre in Paris, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, and the Terra Foundation in Chicago have announced the third installation in their four-year collaboration focusing on the history of American art. "American Encounters: Anglo-American Portraiture in an Era of Revolution," which is currently on view at the Louvre, examines how portraiture style evolved in the late 18th and early 19th centuries as American and European painters were influenced by each other.

The exhibition features five works that have never before been exhibited together -- "George Washington after the Battle of Princeton," attributed to Charles Wilson Peale; "Portrait of Hugh Percy, Second Duke of Northumberland" by Gilbert Stuart; "Lieutenant Robert Hay of Spott" by Henry Raeburn; "George Washington (The Constable-Hamilton Portrait)" by Gilbert Stuart; and "George Washington, Porthole Portrait" by Rembrandt Peale. When its presentation at the Louvre ends on April 28, 2014, the exhibition will travel to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (May 17, 2014-September 15, 2014) and to the High Museum of Art (September 28, 2014-January 18, 2015).  

Guillaume Faroult, the Louvre's Curator of Paintings, said, "The potential for new scholarship and education that comes from bringing these five portraits together is exactly the spirit of our international collaboration and shows how much all of our institutions have to gain from it, as now our visitors are familiarizing themselves with American painting and are greatly anticipating this third installation."

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Tuesday, 29 October 2013 17:46

Rare Vermeer Painting on View in Philadelphia

Young Woman Seated at a Virginal, one of only 36 known paintings by the Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer, is currently on view at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The canvas, which is on loan from the private Leiden Collection, will remain on view through March 2014. The painting is the only remaining work by the artist still in private hands.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art, which boasts the largest collection of 17th century Dutch paintings in North America, has given Young Woman Seated at a Virginal its own wall in the museum’s galleries of European art. The work is accompanied by the Leiden Collection’s own Portrait of Samuel Ampzing by Frans Hals, another master of 17th century Dutch painting.

Scholars have long known about Vermeer’s rendering of a solitary woman but disagreed over its authenticity. Scientific and art historical studies started in the 1990s ultimately proved that Vermeer was, in fact, the painting’s creator. Recent analysis has provided further proof, finding that its canvas is from the same bolt of cloth that Vermeer used for his famous painting Lacemaker, which currently resides in the Louvre.

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Pickpockets have always been most prevalent at locations that attract a high volume of tourists such as the Louvre. However, the pickpocketing problem at the French museum has gotten so severe that 200 members of the institution’s staff staged a walkout earlier this week in protest of the pickpocket gangs that target visitors. The museum reopened to the public on Thursday, April 11, 2013 with a squad of approximately 20 uniformed police officers patrolling the grounds.

The police officers were recruited in response to staff concerns. Many Louvre employees have endured violent altercations with pickpockets including being spat at, insulted, and hit. Many of the criminals return to the museum repeatedly after being barred from the premises. Museum officials hope that a strong police presence will deter pickpockets from setting up shop at the Louvre, which sees about 10 million visitors each year.

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For the first time in the Louvre’s 220-year history, the search for a new chief for the museum may include non-French candidates. Public spending in France is being reduced by $13.4 billion this year and a candidate with expertise in international fundraising is crucial to the Louvre, which has led officials to broaden their search criteria. While French President Francois Hollande vowed not to cut cultural projects, the culture ministry’s budget was reduced by 2.3 percent for 2013.

The Louvre’s new director will be responsible for finding funds to expand the institution’s reception area; the area was built in the 1980s when the museum hosted 4 to 5 million visitors a year. The Louvre, the most visited museum in the world, now welcomes around 10 million visitors a year.

Talks regarding a new director for the Louvre began when the museum’s current chief, Henri Loyrette, announced his resignation on December 17, 2012. Hollande plans to have a new director in place when Loyrette’s twelve-year run at the helm of the institution ends in April.

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