Art: Final Masquerade

For more than half a century, the spot in the Louvre's Grande Galerie had the aura of a shrine. And for good reason. There hung Da Vinci's Mona Lisa, the Louvre's—and the world's—most famous painting. When Culture Minister Andre Malraux decided to redecorate the gallery and install in it the museum's collection of French paintings, the first question was what could possibly replace La Giaconda's enigmatic smile? The answer, decided Director Andre Parrot and Curator Michel Laclotte, was the tragic clown figure, Gilles, painted in 1720 by Antoine Watteau. And surprisingly, the replacement...