This watercolour belongs to a group of works in which Tissot paints tourists visiting the Louvre, the most ambitious being the oil L'Esthtique (Puerto Rico). They are based on studies which the artist made when staying in Paris in October 1879 with his mistress, Kathleen Newton; an oil study of the setting for the present watercolour, without figures, is in the Muse d'Orsay (1984-5 exh., no. 107, illustrated in catalogue). The watercolour itself has been dated circa 1879-80, although it was not exhibited until it appeared at the Socit d'Aquarellistes franais in 1883, some months after Mrs Newton's death in November 1882 had caused the grief-stricken artist to leave London and return permanently to Paris. There is another watercolour version (Wentworth, op. cit., pl. 194) and two in oils, one in a private collection in New York (Wentworth, pl. 195; Matyjaszkiewicz, op. cit., no. 117), the other lost but known from an old photograph (Willard W. Misfeldt, The Albums of James Tissot, Ohio, 1982, p. 72; Matyjaszkiewicz, fig. 55; 1984-5 exh. cat., fig. 70). One of these was exhibited at the Liverpool Autumn exhibition of 1880. A sketch for the figure of Mrs Newton, formerly in a private collection in Melbourne, was offered by Christie's London, 13 March 1992, lot 84.
Professor Misfeldt, to whom we are grateful for help in preparing this entry, suggests that the shorter of the men in Au Louvre (nearest the spectator) may represent Kathleen Newton's brother, who, like her, was born in India.