Skip to the Louvre... in Pas de Calais. Museum opens site in the north
John Lichfield has been The Independent's man in Paris since 1997, covering French news. Before that, he was the paper's Foreign Editor and he has also worked in Brussels and Washington. In 1999, he was the UK press Awards Foreign Reporter of the year.
Saturday 21 April 2012
There will be no need to travel all the way to Paris to see the Louvre from the end of this year. Over 200 of the museum's most important works will be moving to a new branch in Lens in the Pas de Calais, just across the Channel.
Sadly, the Mona Lisa will not be among them. Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece is said to be too frail to move. From December, however, the €150m (£122m) Louvre-Lens gallery will exhibit, for a few months, Leonardo's final painting, The Virgin and Child with Sainte Anne, now on show in the Louvre proper in Paris after a radical restoration.
The Louvre has also revealed the identity of the 205 other works which will move north for five years to mark the opening of the new museum. They will be displayed in a single long exhibition room, as a "gallery of time", illustrating human and artistic development from ancient times to the early 19th century. The oldest work will be a tablet engraved with some of the earliest known writing from Mesopotamia in 3,500 BC. The newest will be Eugene Delacroix's iconic 1830 canvas La Liberté Guidant le Peuple showing a bare-breasted woman carrying a tricolour flag leading a charge.
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