On August 10, 1792, Louis XVI was imprisoned and the one year anniversary of this historic event was marked by opening the former royal palace of the Louvre as a public museum. It was open only three days a week; admission priority was given to artists so that they could study and copy the 537 paintings and 184 objets d’art. This wasn’t the first major transformation in the history of the Louvre – after all, it dates to the 12th century, when it was established as a fortress to guard the approach to Paris by the Seine. Here are some Louvre fun facts:
- Size of the collection: 380,000 objects
- Works of art on display: 35,000
- Visitors per day: 15,000
- Fee paid to film The Da Vinci Code in the Louvre: $2.5 million
- Annual budget: $350 million
- Acquisition budget: $36 million
- Employees: 2,000
- Worst copyist ever to work in the Louvre: me
A few years ago, I took a course at the Louvre geared toward helping French teachers incorporate art in the language classroom. For two weeks, we were given really special access to the collections and personnel, especially the education department. We were able to participate in the various ateliers that the Louvre offers, including photography and drawing. I enjoyed the photography session, but the drawing workshop was pure torture. Armed with a panoply of art supplies and folding stools, we were instructed to copy various artworks. The only problem is that I can’t draw. Other visitors to the Louvre figured we were art students due to the gear and peered over our shoulders to check out what we were drawing. The other teachers seemed to have at least a modicum of ability, but I was a major source of puzzlement to those who observed my lame efforts. Oh the shame. Somehow, the Louvre survived the visit by the worst copyist ever.
Today’s expression, tu me la copieras! (tew muh lah copy-ur-ah) literally means “you will copy it from me,” but it’s a slangy way of saying “I won’t forget that in a hurry!” That’s certainly how I feel about my morning as a copyist at the Louvre with all 15,000 of those daily visitors passing judgment on my lack of artistic ability.
- Le Saut du Loup (onequalitythefinest.com)