The Louvre’s Critically Acclaimed Delacroix Show Gets Record-Breaking Attendance

The Parisian museum broke its attendance records with the show, which will travel to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in September.

Eugène Delacroix, Greece on the Ruins of Missolonghi (1826). Musée des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux © Musée des Beaux-Arts, ville de Bordeaux. Cliché L . Gauthier, F . Deval.

A record half a million people went to the Louvre’s Eugène Delacroix blockbuster, which is headed to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the fall. The survey brings together 180 works that span the French painter’s career. With nearly 540,000 visitors, it is the busiest show in the history of the Paris museum.

The Louvre received a public relations boost this summer thanks to the video “Apesh**t” by Beyoncé and Jay-Z that was set within the historic institution, although Delacroix’s works did not make the cut in the couple’s video.

The show, which opened at the end of March and closed on July 23, saw visitor numbers peaking to around 7,200 a day in the past month. Delacroix is one of France’s greatest 19th-century painters, best known for his 1830 painting Liberty Leading the People, but there has not been a full-scale survey of his work in the past fifty years. Liberty will not be traveling to the Met for the September show.

The Delacroix exhibition, which has been co-organised with the Met, is an ambitious and collaborative endeavor between the French institution’s Sébastien Allard and Côme Fabre and Asher Miller from the Met. The New York museum’s version of the show, which will be slightly smaller with 150 paintings, will open on September 17. A few of the artist’s largest works won’t be able travel to the US show because of their size.

Eugène Delacroix, Women of Algiers in Their Apartment (1833-1834). Musée du Louvre, Paris © RMN-Grand Palais (Musée du Louvre) / Franck Raux.

The Louvre staged 11 night openings and free days during the last month, which allowed an extra 25,000 people to see the exhibition. The French President Emmanuel Macron also gave the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman a private tour of the exhibition earlier this year, a high profile event that drew further attention to the exhibition.

With so many key works on view, as well as two of his most massive paintings—La Mort de Sardanapale and La Prise de Constantinople par les Croisés—rave reviews from critics poured in. The show exposed all facets of the Romantic painter who was interchangeably sinister, political and then erotic throughout his wide breadth of a career.

The show at the Met will be the first big Delacroix survey in the US. The New York iteration is well placed to top the Louvre attendance, when visitor figures for its temporary exhibitions tend to be modest given its 8 million plus total museum attendance. That said, according to our columnist Tim Schneider, record-breaking attendance numbers at the Met do not answer the questions that matter most about visitorship and its disputed attendance policy.

Delacroix” will be on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art from September 17 through January 9, 2019.


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