Litercurious Book Review

TitleThe Louvre: The Many Lives of
the World’s Most Famous Museum
AuthorJames Gardner
PublisherAtlantic Monthly Press (May 5, 2020)
ISBN # -10 / ISBN # -13 0802148778 / 978-0802148773


James Gardner is a prolific art critic. He is widely published with articles that have appeared in such diverse publications as: The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the New Republic, and the Spectator Magazine. He is presently an editor at The Magazine Antiques and has a half a dozen other manuscripts in publication.


The Louvre: The Many Lives of the World’s Most Famous Museum is a serious book for those who adore the history, the spectacle, and the beauty of France’s most notable museum. If you enjoy history, art, sculpture pomp and circumstance of the land dating back some 7,000 years, then this could be a read you would enjoy.


The history of The Louvre is only overshadowed by the history of Paris itself. Gardener ferries us skillfully through the sometimes-complex chronology of The Louvre from the past to the present.  Gardner guides us across the chasm of time beginning with the earliest inhabitants of the land to the stunning awe-inspiring beauty of today’s architectural masterpiece. The cast of historic characters remains every bit as interesting and notable as the iconic landmark itself. Some of the distinguished individuals within the pages are: King Philippe Auguste, Charles V, Louis XVI, and Napoleon to name but a few.

Across centuries from 7,000 years ago through the construction of a fortress in 1191, Gardner imbues us with a very intimate knowledge of the legend that is The Louvre. He takes us through the Reign of Terror, the Napoleonic period, the Commune, and on to recent history.

Gardner’s work is a masterpiece resplendent with facts, details and an appreciation of the museum. The author ends with the knowledge that The Louvre is now more popular than ever and its visitor levels are a very healthy 8 million most years.  


Contained within the pages of this volume are some black and white photographs, plates and illustrations. Furthermore, there is a list of endnotes and a Bibliography. I had anticipated a directory of detailed references, but I was disappointed.

Sadly, at the time of writing this review the Museum has been closed for several days as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak that is spreading across the globe. No doubt this will reduce the number of visitors annually, unless circumstances change.


I would like to thank James Gardner, NetGalley, and Atlantic Monthly Press for affording me the opportunity to review The Louvre: The many Lives of the World’s Most Famous Museum.