Louvre opens bookings for blockbuster Leonardo show in October

Paris (AFP) –


The Louvre museum in Paris will on Tuesday open bookings for a blockbuster exhibition in October of most of Leonardo da Vinci's paintings to mark the quincentennial of the Renaissance master's death.

Tickets to the show opening on October 24 will not be available at the box office, but only on the website www.ticketlouvre.fr and in major stores.

"Because of the expected crowds, the exhibition will be accessible only by time slot as a way of ensuring the most comfortable visit," the museum said in a statement on Monday.

"This applies to all visitors, including those with free access to the museum," it said.

The Louvre possesses Leonardo's most famous painting, the Mona Lisa, along with four others, as well as 22 drawings.

The Mona Lisa was among three of Leonardo's favourite paintings, the others being the Virgin and Child with Saint Anne, and Saint John the Baptist, which he brought with him to France where he died 500 years ago on May 2.

The show will include nearly 120 more works -- paintings, drawings, manuscripts, sculptures and other items -- loaned by some of the most prestigious European and American institutions such as Britain's Royal Collection, the British Museum, London's National Gallery, the Pinacoteca at the Vatican, New York's Metropolitan Museum and the Institut de France.

Negotiations for loans from Italy are still under way after hitting a snag, with the right-wing government in Rome baulking at lending many of Italy's Leonardos -- including the iconic Vitruvian Man drawing -- to the Louvre under an agreement reached with the previous government.

The two sides have yet to agree on a definitive list.

The French side has agreed to lend paintings by Raphael to Rome next year for that Renaissance master's quincentennial.

Some 10.2 million people visited the Louvre last year.