This is possibly my favorite museum in the whole world. An afternoon spent at the Musee d’Orsay is always a pleasure; and certainly on par with a brilliant food experience. With a collection of beautiful paintings, sculpture and other art from the second half of the 19th century and early decade or two of the 20th century, there are so many paintings here I would love to have hanging on my home walls. I can’t say the same for a lot of the stuff at the Louvre, or L’Accademia in Venice, National Museums in every major capital, etc. Back in university, I took several classes in Art History, and enjoyed the ones on Impressionist art the most. And with SO MANY paintings from that period at the Musee d’Orsay, a visit there is like flipping through textbooks, but instead of “plates” of photographs, you are bombarded with brilliant painting after painting after painting… Housed “within” the shell of a former train station built for an exposition in 1900, the museum shell is an incredible tribute to STEEL… just when you thought such a hard metal would be cold and unyielding, it is instead pliant, elegant and simply stunning. But the interiors are very modern, clean, soothing and just large enough to be manaeable for a few hours of wandering about. If you wish to read more about the history of the museum, click here.
Good grief, just imagine how enlightened these guys were to have a TRAIN STATION that looked like this! And the clocks that face outwards and inwards are just stunning as well. Yes, that’s me in the shadows of the clock up top.
The whole museum is bathed in natural sunlight from the glass roof above. And the curvature of the roof is stunning as well. One should take a minute or two to appreciate the shell of the museum before plunging into the orgy of art in the various rooms and levels…
The ground floor has several dozen wonderful sculptures, and you feel as though you are in an outdoor sculpture garden, except for the complete absence of trees or shrubery! This is the perfect place to catch your breath, study the map, and decide which parts of the museum you would like to visit. On a 2-3 hour visit, you can see 50-70% of the collection on display at a reasonable pace. The day we visited, it wasn’t too busy, so one didn’t feel rushed or claustrophobic.
For this post, I thought I would post some photos of food and related subjects, just to give you an idea of what the collection includes. But trust me when I say there are few places on earth where you will find a more incredible collection of pre-impressionist, impressionist and just post-impressionist art under one roof. First off a hunk of beef. A Manet I think, and I don’t recall seeing this painting before.
A still life by Manet with grapes, fresh almonds, etc. I didn’t realize until this trip just how many paintings Manet had with food as a subject. I like his paintings, often with a touch of black in them that seem to make them so distinct, in a way.
A still life by Henri Fantin-Latour, beautiful and colorful, but too “cheery” for me. Mind you, I would take it if someone gave it to me…heeheehee.
L’Asperge, again by Manet, a small painting of a single white Asparagus, one of several paintings of white asparagus he did at the time. I wonder if he was fascinated with the strange effect asparagus has on one’s urine. :)
Nature morte a la boulloire, by Paul Cezanne, another still life, also with a streak of black in it, can you tell which paintings I am drawn to?
I can’t believe I got this photo of an entire wall in a gallery without any other people around, it really must have been a slow day at the d’Orsay…
A huge and pretty canvas, Le Dejeuner by Claude Monet is something someone with plastic on their couches might aspire to having replicated at a Vietnamese art store for $500. I realize a lot of folks would love this painting, but I am not that big a fan of it…
Another large canvas, by Pierre Bonnard, entitled L’apres-midi bourgeoise in the same vein is also not floating my boat, if you know what I mean.
I was always a huge fan of Pierre Bonnard’s work, but they didn’t seem to have a good representation of his works on display at d’Orsay, with iconic pieces I had read about probably in other collections and museums. However, this painting, La Femme au chat, was rather visually arresting. Even if the cat hairs gave me virtual allergies… If you visit the museum, don’t forget to drop by the roof terrace where you can have a drink and snack and enjoy a FANTASTIC view of the Seine and the city of Paris beyond…