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26.02.2020 Europe

Leonardo da Vinci paints Louvre's all-time record red

AFP/François Guillot
LISTEN FEB 26, 2020
AFP/François Guillot

The "Leonardo da Vinci" exhibition attracted nearly 1.1 million visitors since its opening in late October at the Louvre Museum in Paris. It closed on Monday, having set an all-time attendance record for the celebrated venue.

The huge show to mark the 500th anniversary of Da Vinci's death in France, drew twice the numbers of visitors, compared to the previous biggest show at the world's most visited museum.

In 2018, some 540,000 lined up for a major retrospective of the 19th-century French painter Eugène Delacroix.

But the Leonardo show, which was based on the Louvre's own unrivalled collection of the Renaissance master's work, saw record numbers of visitors from the start.

"It is marvellous that an Italian Renaissance artist continues to fascinate the public," said the museum's director Jean-Luc Martinez.

He said he was hugely proud of having "brought together the biggest number of Leonardo's works for a show, and of having welcomed such a huge and diverse group of visitors".

The "Mona Lisa", the most famous of the Tuscan's paintings, was conspicuously absent from the show, as organisers feared crowd-control problems.

But the Louvre's La Belle Ferronnière and Saint John the Baptist were among nearly 120 works featured in the huge show, which opened in October.

On average, 10,000 people a day passed through the doors, paying 17 euros each to admire 10 of the master's paintings as well as an assortment of notebooks, drawings, manuscripts and sculptures.

"Such an exceptional number of people over four months is because of the 46 evening openings," the Louvre added.

The museum opened all night on the show's last three days to allow the maximum number of people to profit from the exceptional exhibition.

Although the numbers who queued to see the Leonardo show were impressive, it fell short of the French record set by a Tutankhamun blockbuster from Egypt's National Museum, which drew 1.4 million people to the Villette arts and science complex in northern Paris last year.

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