Spring/Summer 2024

Art & Auctions
Travelling Through Fables

An exhibition showcasing a remarkable collection of ancient tales and illustrated fables is now underway in Louvre Abu Dhabi, promising to captivate visitors as they embark on a unique journey through time.

The museum’s first exhibition of the year, ‘From Kalīla wa Dimna to La Fontaine: Travelling through Fables’,  is held in partnership with Bibliothèque nationale de France and France Muséums along with the generous support of Van Cleef & Arpels. The exhibition runs till July 21.

Curated by Annie Vernay-Nouri, Former Chief Curator, Oriental Manuscripts Department, Bibliothèque nationale de France, the exhibition draws inspiration from traditional illustrated fables and delves into the mystical world of animal tales embedded within historical manuscripts. With more than 132 artworks on display, the exhibition features an eclectic collection of rare manuscripts, paintings, contemporary works, and more – unveiling the timeless narratives of friendship, loyalty, cunning, and morality, as portrayed through anthropomorphic animal characters.

The exhibition traces the origins of this genre in India and Greece, following its evolution through the contributions of two key figures: Aesop in the Greco-Roman world and Ibn al-Muqaffa in the Arab-Islamic world. It highlights how the Arabic translation of Ibn Al-Muqaffa (c.720-756 CE) played a pivotal role in the translations that followed, such as the Persian and French versions that Jean de La Fontaine based his translations on. La Fontaine (1621-1695 CE) is widely recognised as one of the most prominent literary figures in French history and his unique works have left a lasting impact on French literature, celebrated to this day for their timeless charm and wit.

Manuel Rabaté, Director, Louvre Abu Dhabi, said: “At Louvre Abu Dhabi, we are not just presenting art; we are weaving narratives as a universal museum, leading by storytelling. Fables have transcended linguistic and cultural boundaries, inspiring new creations in both the East and the West, perfectly aligning with our mission – shedding light on the shared stories of humanity.”

The exhibition is divided into three main sections – Travelling Tales, Telling Stories, and The Fables Today – taking visitors on a voyage of texts over time through their various adaptations and translations. 

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