In all 913,064 visitors flocked to Paris' Grand Palais on the Champs-Elysées to view 'Claude Monet (1840-1926)', gathering some 170 tableaux of the much-loved impressionist painter from around the globe. The show closed on Monday night.
The last time such attendance levels were beaten in France was for a 1967 exhibition on the Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamen at the Petit Palais, which attracted 1.2 million visitors but over a much longer period – six months instead of four.
Previously the most popular art exhibition in recent years was 'Picasso and the Masters', which pulled in 780,000 visitors in 2009.
The Monet exhibition spanned 60 years of painting, from the realism of the 1860s to the impressionism of the early 20th century.
It included such famous works as the field of poppies near Argenteuil, west of Paris, and the sun breaking through London fog near the Houses of Parliament, painted in 1903.
The curators also persuaded the Pushkin Museum in Moscow to lend them Monet's 'Déjeuner sur l'Herbe' and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York the Terrace at Saint-Adresse.
While the exhibition was a popular and critical success there was also controversy when the Marmottan museum in Paris refused to hand over a single of its Monets for the exhibition – a move Grand Palais curators criticised as "stupid".
The Marmottan holds a number of celebrated Monet works including several studies for his Water Lilies series and the famous Impression: Soleil Levant (Sun Rising) painted in 1872, which gave Impressionism its name.
It refused any loans because it ran a long-planned parallel exhibition.