Under the Louvre pyramid, hundreds of visitors enjoy the nocturnes of the exhibition dedicated to Leonardo Da Vinci. - A. Boumediene / 20 Minutes
- The exhibition dedicated to Leonardo da Vinci at the Louvre experienced record attendance numbers.
- It had been sold out for weeks, no more tickets being available for sale.
- But the Louvre offered 30,000 free invitations valid for three special nights, to the delight of the lucky ones who got a sesame.
It is 2am. In the heart of Paris, calm reigns and the cold is biting. The courtyard of the Louvre is empty. Empty but majestic, lit by its Pyramid, shining in the dark night like a precious jewel. But the calm is only apparent, because below the glass tetrahedron, hundreds of curious people have come to admire other gems.
They are among the lucky ones who won one of the 30,000 free invitations offered by the Louvre for the last three nights of the event exhibition dedicated to Leonardo da Vinci, the Florentine genius. This Friday evening, 20 Minutes has not gone to bed and while Saturday has taken its place, we take you to spend the night at the museum.
"It's a special moment to be able to make this visit at night"
It is already more than 2:30 am, and in the exhibition halls, we meet Leonardo Da Vinci enthusiasts of all ages. Many have silver temples, and, glasses screwed on their noses, observe the masterpieces of the Italian master. Here and there, retired as art students embark on scholarly analyzes of the works available to them. "This is the flagship piece of his Milanese period," says a young enthusiast. “The finesse of his line, this sense of perspective, what a genius! », Comments another, the sixties well underway. But some much younger visitors were able to dry the usual bedtime to spend the night at the museum. Point of Ben Stiller in sight nor of statue which comes to life at nightfall, but Augustin, 6 years old, takes full advantage of the exhibition. Audio guide on the ears, the little boy, who would normally be in the arms of Morpheus, conscientiously contemplates "the last supper". "It is a unique opportunity for both of us to see all these incredible works and for him, it is a special moment to be able to make this visit at night," says his mother, art historian.
And if hundreds of spectators stroll to discover the master's paintings, drawings, sculptures and notebooks, the atmosphere that reigns this night in the heart of the Louvre gives everyone the impression that the museum belongs to him. A visibly more vivid impression among some visitors, as comfortable here as at home. Some frantically take each photo, others, more discreet, look at each piece, without lingering too long. And others, attracting the qualification of "relous", post themselves very long in front of a painting (as long as doing one of the masterpieces of the exhibition), their noses 10 cm from the canvas, taking every detail in the photo, and royally ignoring the small crowd of annoyed visitors massing behind them.
"Oh my, it's 3:08 am, it stings"
Paul was ready to skip the planned visit with his partner. “When she announced to me last week that we would be going to the Louvre in the middle of the night, she saw me. And just now, when she pulled me out of the bed at 1 am, I just wanted to stay under the duvet! But I don't regret a second, it's worth the trip, ”he admits, well awakened after a double espresso. In the dimly lit corner of the room, seated on a bench, a young woman pricks a little nap, next to her friends who do not seem much more awake than she. Five minutes later, the microsieste has done its job: the little troop gets up and continues the visit.
A little further, others struggle to keep their eyes open. "Oh my, it's 3:08 am, it stings! Maybe I should have had a second coffee, ”blows a quadra, his eyes narrowed with fatigue. Her friend suppresses a yawn while waiting for the field to clear. In front of her, a thirties and her mother squat in front of "La Scapiliata", the portrait of a disheveled young girl. An unfinished painting by the master, but which captivates anyone who contemplates it. "It was worth the wait, fatigue flies away when you see such beauty," cowardly, amazed, the one whose desire to sleep is gone.
"But where is it, Vitruvian man?" "
"But where is it, Vitruvian man?" », Asks a mother at the end of the journey. Claudia was unaware that the famous drawing, representing the ideal proportions of the human body, had returned to the Gallerie dell'Accademia in Venice, which lent it to the Louvre only for the first weeks of the exhibition. Not enough to undermine the enthusiasm of the young woman, who came especially from Orleans with husband and children. “We hit the road at midnight, and it was out of the question to come to them, it's a unique experience, it's adventure, it's like in Night at the museum . And to spend the night at the museum, Claudia had to take down invitations. “Last week, my husband called me at 9 am to tell me that places were going to be available. I was at work, I immediately got into the virtual queue, I waited two hours but I succeeded, ”she says. Like Claudia, thousands of lucky people were able to get a last-minute ticket to visit the event expo, which ends on Monday and which has been sold out for many weeks. No more tickets were available for sale until February 11, when the Louvre offered 30,000 free invitations, spread over the last three nights of the exhibition.
That night, the whole family took full advantage. Félicia, stars still full of eyes, does not hide her joy. "It was an opportunity to see the Louvre, the Pyramid, I was trembling with impatience," says the little girl. There are lots of things that we are not used to seeing, works that come from all over the world! My favorite was the infrared reproduction of the Mona Lisa. And also all of Da Vinci's notebooks. Above, he wrote backwards so that the others would not bite his ideas, "underlines the little girl, impressed by the genius of the Italian painter. For Floric, his big brother, the Saint Jean-Baptiste, property of the Louvre, has his preference. If the exhibition features pieces from the Louvre collections, it brings together works on loan from other museums, but also by private collectors, lucky anonymous and others better known, with some pieces on loan from the Queen Elisabeth II. "All his prints, all these notebooks, it's very interesting and impressive to see them in real life, because these are things that we have only seen on TV so far, adds Florent, the dad. I would have liked the rest of the museum to be as open ... But we'll be back! ", He promises, to the delight of his daughter, who" dreams of seeing the Mona Lisa in real life "[which is in the Louvre but which is not part of the exhibition].
"I had a chance of thunder!" "
The visit is over, it's time to give yourself a little sweet break before returning to the night. That's good, the Louvre has everything planned and offers tea and madeleines to night visitors. Carole, still looking bright, tries to keep precious memories of the wonders she was not even supposed to be able to enjoy. "I came out of the blue, thinking I could buy a night ticket," she says. After being refused, I forced my luck and climbed a group of six visitors and asked them if he did not have an excess ticket. A stroke of luck: one of their friends had withdrawn at the last minute and they offered me his place! I'm in heaven, it was really a wonderful exhibition! And I discovered so much about De Vinci, like his passion for science or all of his works that he started without ever finishing them. ”
Outside, the neighborhood is not completely asleep. A few hundred meters away, on the banks of the Seine, a young woman accompanied by her mother searches for her way: "Do you know where the entrance to the Vinci exhibition is? Asks Sultane. Mother and daughter would not have missed this meeting. “I am fond of art, so I came specially from Metz to see this exhibition, says Elisabeth, the mother, who managed to win two tickets for the 5h slot. I had a chance of thunder! For the occasion, the two women set the alarm clock at 2 am and took a Noctilien to come. "I'm so happy, I hope the store is open to bring back a souvenir!" Hopes Elizabeth, Klimt scarf around his neck and van Gogh cigarette case in the handbag. Elisabeth and Sultane continue on their way, ready for an immersion in the world of Leonardo da Vinci. It is almost 5am, Paris is waking up, but the Louvre has not fallen asleep.
Vinci's exhibition at the Louvre: The works that you will be able to see there and those that are missing
- Louvre Museum