Laurence des Cars

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Laurence des Cars
Laurence Élisabeth de Pérusse des Cars

(1966-06-13) June 13, 1966 (age 53)
Alma materÉcole du Louvre
Sorbonne University
OccupationMuseum curator, art historian

Laurence des Cars (born Laurence Élisabeth de Pérusse des Cars on 13 June 1966) is a French general curator of heritage and art historian, current director at the Musée d'Orsay and Musée de l'Orangerie.[1]


Laurence des Cars was born in Antony, France. She is the daughter of the journalist and writer Jean des Cars [fr] and granddaughter of the novelist Guy des Cars.[1] She studied art history at Paris-Sorbonne University and École du Louvre, then joined the Institut national du patrimoine and took her first position as curator at the Musée d'Orsay in 1994.[2]

She is a specialist on the art of the nineteenth century and early twentieth century. As a teacher at École du Louvre, she organised many exhibitions for various museums, such as ‘L’Origine du monde, autour d’un chef-d’œuvre de Courbet’ (Musée d’Orsay, 1996); ‘Jean-Paul Laurens, peintre d’histoire’ (Musée d’Orsay, Musée des Augustins, 1997–1998); ‘Edward Burne-Jones’ (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Musée de Birmingham, Musée d'Orsay, 1998–1999);[3] ‘Courbet et la Commune’ (Musée d’Orsay, 2000); ‘Thomas Eakins, un réaliste américain’ (Philadelphia Museum of Art, Musée d'Orsay, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2001–2002); ‘Édouard Vuillard’ (National Gallery of Art, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, Royal Academy of Arts, 2003–2004); ‘Gustave Courbet’ (Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Musée Fabre, 2007–2008); ‘Jean-Léon Gérôme’ (Getty Museum, Musée d’Orsay, Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, 2010–2011);[2]Louvre Abou Dhabi, Naissance d’un musée’ (Manarat Al Saadiyat Museum, Musée du Louvre, 2013–2014); ‘Attaquer le soleil : Hommage au marquis de Sade’ (Musée d’Orsay, 2014–2015); ‘Apollinaire, le regard du poète’ (Musée de l’Orangerie, 2016); ‘La peinture américaine des années 1930’ (Musée de l’Orangerie, 2016–2017).

She is the author of numerous illustrated essays, including a book on Pre-Raphaelites for the collectionDécouvertes Gallimard’, Les Préraphaélites : Un modernisme à l’anglaise (1999); L’art français : Le XIXᵉ siècle (Flammarion, 2008); Le petit dictionnaire Vallotton en 21 obsessions (RMN Grand Palais, 2013), et cetera.

Laurence des Cars was appointed scientific director of the Agence France-Muséums [fr] in July 2007, French operator in charge of the development of the Louvre Abu Dhabi. She was also promoted to general curator of heritage in 2011 and was appointed director of the Musée de l’Orangerie in January 2014, by the Minister of Culture, Aurélie Filippetti.[4][5][6][7] On 27 February 2017, she was officially appointed director of the Musée d’Orsay by the then French President François Hollande.[1][8]


Laurence des Cars is the chevalier of the Legion of Honour and National Order of Merit, officer of Arts and letters.[9]

Les Préraphaélites : Un modernisme à l'anglaise[edit]

Les Préraphaélites : Un modernisme à l'anglaise
AuthorLaurence des Cars
Original titleLes Préraphaélites : Un modernisme à l'anglaise
TranslatorFrancisca Garvie
Cover artistDante Rossetti (FR & US eds.)
John Millais (UK ed.)
SeriesDécouvertes Gallimard●Peinture
Release number
SubjectPre-Raphaelite Brotherhood
GenreNon-fiction monograph
PublisherFR: Éditions Gallimard
US: Harry N. Abrams
UK: Thames & Hudson
Publication date
Published in English
Media typePrint (Paperback)
Pages128 pp.
Preceded byL'Europe : Petite histoire d'une grande idée 
Followed byLe papier : Une aventure au quotidien
Proserpine, (1874) by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, is the cover image for French and US editions
Ophelia, (1851-52) by John Everett Millais, is the cover image for the UK edition

In 1848, during the reign of Queen Victoria, English painting, had been bogged down in the convention. The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, by radically innovative aesthetic choices, would bring it back to life. John Everett Millais, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and William Holman Hunt are the original members of this Brotherhood. They claimed a freedom and authenticity that they felt painting had lost since academicism has regarded Raphael as a model.

Supported by art critic John Ruskin, who was the voice of modernity at the time, this group of young people—they were only 20 years old—took inspiration from the medieval art, just like the neo-Gothic architects did before them. Their works reflect both a sense of nature and a social concern. The second generation of artists of this Brotherhood, led by Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris, applied their principles to the decor, furniture, and illustrated books, influencing 'Symbolist Europe' through their imaginary.

Laurence des Cars, chronicler of this artistic story of rebellion, retraces its history in this small 1999 volume, entitled Les Préraphaélites : Un modernisme à l'anglaise (lit. 'The Pre-Raphaelites: An English Modernism'; English-language edition – The Pre-Raphaelites: Romance and Realism), published by Éditions Gallimard in its Peinture series of the Découvertes collection. The book is illustrated with 125 illustrations, 95 in colour, and has five chapters: Ⅰ, 'A Victorian Rebellion'; Ⅱ, 'Avant-Garde Archaism (1848–51)'; Ⅲ, 'Individual Destinies (1852–6)'; Ⅳ, 'Artistic Careers' (1857–70); Ⅴ, 'Towards Symbolism (1871–98)'.

These are followed by a 'Documents' section containing the opinions and attitudes from the contemporaries of Pre-Raphaelites, and is divided into five parts: 1, Controversy and misunderstanding; 2, Artist poets; 3, The everyday life of a Pre-Raphaelite; 4, Critical views, 5, Rediscovery. The book also includes a further readings list, list of museums, list of illustrations, index of works by artist, and a general index. It has been translated into English, Japanese, and Russian.


  • Les Préraphaélites : Un modernisme à l’anglaise, collection « Découvertes Gallimard » (nº 368), série Arts. Éditions Gallimard, 1999
    • UK edition – The Pre-Raphaelites: Romance and Realism, ‘New Horizons’ series. Thames & Hudson, 2000 (reprinted 2004, 2010, 2011)
    • US edition – The Pre-Raphaelites: Romance and Realism, "Abrams Discoveries" series. Harry N. Abrams, 2000
  • Gérôme : De la peinture à l’image, coll. « Découvertes Gallimard Hors série ». Éditions Gallimard, 2010
  • Louvre Abu Dhabi : Naissance d’un musée, coll. « Catalogue d’exposition ». Louvre éditions and Éditions Flammarion, 2013
    • Louvre Abu Dhabi: Birth of a Museum, Flammarion, 2014
Collective work
  • AA.VV., Manet, inventeur du Moderne, « Livres d’Art ». Éditions Gallimard, 2011
    • Manet: The Man Who Invented Modernity, Gallimard, 2011
  • AA.VV., Apollinaire : Le regard du poète, « Livres d’Art ». Éditions Gallimard, 2016


  1. ^ a b c Muñoz-Alonso, Lorena (2017-02-28). "Laurence des Cars Is the New Director of Paris's Musée d'Orsay". Artnet News. Retrieved 2018-01-31.
  2. ^ a b "Aurélie Filippetti, ministre de la Culture et de la Communication a nommé Laurence des Cars au poste de Directrice du musée de l'Orangerie". Ministry of Culture of France (in French). 2014-01-21. Retrieved 2018-01-31.
  3. ^ Des Cars, Laurence (2000). The Pre-Raphaelites: Romance and Realism. ‘New Horizons’ series. Translated by Garvie, Francisca. London: Thames & Hudson. p. 128. ISBN 978-0-500-30100-5. About the author
  4. ^ Greenberger, Alex (2017-02-28). "Musée d'Orsay Appoints Laurence des Cars as Director". Artnet News. Retrieved 2018-01-31.
  5. ^ "Arrêté du 1er janvier 2014 portant nomination de la directrice du musée national de l'Orangerie des Tuileries". Légifrance (in French). 2014-01-16. Retrieved 2018-01-31.
  6. ^ Bietry-Rivierre, Eric (2014-03-04). "Laurence des Cars, la patronne de l'Orangerie". Le Figaro (in French). Retrieved 2018-01-31.
  7. ^ Noce, Vincent (2013-07-12). "LAURENCE DES CARS PRESSENTIE À L'ORANGERIE". Libération (in French). Retrieved 2018-01-31.
  8. ^ Rykner, Didier (2017-02-28). "Nomination de Laurence des Cars à la tête du Musée d'Orsay". La Tribune de l'art (in French). Retrieved 2018-01-31.
  9. ^ "Légion d'honneur : une femme chevalier pour défendre le patrimoine". Le Populaire du Centre [fr] (in French). 2016-03-27. Retrieved 2018-01-31.