The latest in the series of translated French graphic novels commissioned by and celebrating the Louvre Museum — previous volumes were Glacial Period, The Museum Vaults, On the Odd Hours, The Sky Over the Louvre, and Rohan at the Louvre — is the first that really resonated with me.
In An Enchantment, Christian Durieux tells a classic story of a man and a woman, strangers to each other, and one magical night in the setting of the museum. The unnamed he is a famous retiring official, guest at a banquet thrown in his honor but bored with the company and the pomp and the pretense. So he sneaks away into the galleries with a couple of bottles of wine, only to encounter a mysterious woman there to appreciate the paintings.
If the characters were younger, she’d remind us of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl cliche. They wander, look at the art, drink, talk about his history, and discuss how the Louvre has changed. The setting of the museum complements the tale, with its grandeur symbolizing the official’s high status. Durieux captures the feel of the building’s size and mystery, with something new around every corner.
The large hardcover format gives the work the feel of a picture book for adults, an evocation that echoes the fable-like story that the author labels “a graphic poem”. Finally, it descends into pure escapism through art. I did feel a little left out, culturally. If I knew more about the history of the museum, I might recognize some of the allusions, and I also wished I was more familiar with the classic works shown. There is a list at the back, with work, artist, and museum location, in case I wanted to look them up to learn more about them. (The publisher provided a review copy.)