26 May 2021
By Elaine Sciolino and Alex Marshall
Move over, Mona Lisa. You may be about to have competition as the most-talked-about woman in the Louvre.
For the first time since its creation in 1793 in the wake of the French Revolution, the Musée du Louvre will be headed by a woman, Laurence des Cars, the current head of the Musée d’Orsay and the much smaller Musée de l’Orangerie.
Des Cars, 54, was appointed on Wednesday as the museum’s president-director by the president of France, Emmanuel Macron.
“Four years at the Orsay gave me this confidence, this crazy idea that I could be the next president of the Louvre,” des Cars said in an hourlong telephone interview. “The president probably saw that I was ready for the job and that I am somehow serene. I am not overanxious. I have to stay very calm.”
On Sept. 1, des Cars will replace the museum’s leader of eight years, Jean-Luc Martinez, who had waged an intense media campaign to stay on for a new five-year term.
The two museum directors could not be more different. Both studied art history at the École du Louvre, the museum’s prestigious school. But the Louvre has traditionally been run by upper-class art historians, and Martinez, a trained archaeologist with little expertise in painting, was the son of a postman from a working-class suburb of Paris. Des Cars, a specialist in 19th- and early-20th-century painting, is descended from a French noble family of writers.
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