Won’t you join me!
Today, on this first day of TSLL’s French Week, a Sunday, no less, what a perfect day for visiting a museum in Paris.
Beginning a day in the city of Paris is a very good day indeed. Add a croissant, a stroll through le Jardin du Palais Royal with time to sit on a bench amongst the roses and boxwoods to jot a few thoughts, and the day continues to be seemingly a dream realized.
With the city still waking up on a Tuesday, the first Tuesday of July, the traffic begins to rustle about, and the sun, kissing the east sides of the city of Light’s buildings, nudges us all to start anew.
Wandering past the Les Deux Plateaux, more commonly known as the Colonnes de Buren, a few Parisians make their way to work, while us few tourists snap a photo with the gentle morning light.
The morning session of flâneurie found me in front of the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, saying bonjour to Le Louvre just before nine o’clock as I made my way to the Seine to cross and arrive at the doors of Le Musée d’Orsay when it opened.
Standing on the edge of the Seine with the traffic now in full gear, the once train station that welcomed and whisked away Parisians across the country and Europe found my gaze for the first time since 2000.
And so, I would like to invite you to take a virtual visit to le Musée d’Orsay as I share the sites and paintings and special exhibit I had the opportunity to relish this past July.
The last time I stepped foot inside Le Musée d’Orsay was the summer of 2000 and the entrance was entirely different, and the line, non-existent based on my best recollection. As you can see above, this was the line just prior to nine in the morning waiting to pay admission; there was an equally long, serpetine line on the other side as well. However, once opening hours began, the line moved swiftly through the security and payment checks (it took maybe 15 minutes at the most to be able to begin exploring inside).
As I shared in a recent This & That, the current limited-time exhibit open at Le Musée d’Orsay is of French Impressionist artist Berthe Morisot. The entire right-wing of the second-floor of the museum is full of Morisot paintings. Her biography is inspiring, and her determination to continue her craft even thought she was highly under appreciated in her time (1841-1895) is a reminder to pursue what internally inspires you rather than what society applauds.
As you will see in some of the images below reading about her favorite models to paint and her experience in this male-dominated painting milieu (Monet, Manet, Renoir, Degas, to name a few), she saw and knew herself to be equal to their talents (amongst her male counterparts she actually was immediately recognized as one of the group’s most innovative artists, just not by the public), and didn’t let the zeitgeist’s lack of approval thwart her from pursuing her passion and sharing her talent.
The exhibit is open through September 22nd in Paris, and began its tour in Quebec, then moved to Philadelphia, this past spring traveled to Dallas, and now has arrived at its final destination – Paris. This is the first time such an exhibit has been arranged of Morisot’s art since the mid-20th century. I was tickled to happen upon it, and spent much of the morning learning more about an artist I knew little about until this opportunity.
Below are many of her paintings, as well as more detailed descriptions of her life.
But of course, Le Musée d’Orsay holds many more works of art, and many more still of the beloved Impressionists. In fact, it holds the largest collection of Impressionist art in the world. But where was this famed Impressionist wing of the museum?
As shared above, I had not been to the museum since 2000, and in 2011, a significant renovation took place throughout the entire building which added a 5th floor that is unable to be seen if you are looking at the main public area in full view of the historical clock above the entrance. Where in the world was the fifth floor?
I did my best to read my map, went to the top of the staircase on the second floor, or so I thought, and found beautiful furniture, but no Impressionist paintings. So I inquired with two different staffers, and after the second one insisted I keep going up the stairs, I did just that, taking escalator after escalator after escalator, and finally reaching the 5th floor.
It was worth the confusion and the climb.
Perhaps you’ve seen the many Instagram pics that share a view from inside the museum through a glass clock window which frames beautifully Sacre Couer as well as the Parisian ferris wheel in the Tuileries (see above – this is the best pic I could capture as there were crowds of people even this early in the day)? Well, that picture is captured at the entrance to the Impressionist permanent exhibit resides, and it is grand.
Below are a few pictures of the many well-known and lesser-known, but still exquisite, Impressionist paintings.
~Take a tour of Claude Monet’s Giverny with me as I had the opportunity to visit last summer.
A visit to any museum is best enjoyed and savored in small doses, and while I did walk through other rooms throughout the museum to say hello for example to Jean-François Millet’s “The Gleaners” which holds a special place in my heart only because it was the first print of a painting I remember seeing as a young child in my grandparents’ home and then passed on to my mother. At such a young age, I had no idea what it was, but for some reason it captured my attention, and being able to see the actual painting in 2000 and then again in 2019 immediately reminded me of my grandparents. During this visit to the museum, as you may have guessed, it was Berthe Morisot and the Impressionists that held my attention for the majority of my visit. Perhaps next visit, it will be another time period for reasons I cannot imagine at this moment in my life. But whatever does, I look foward to the visit and reason to return.
As many TSLL readers know, after visiting a museum, you are filled, you are moved, but you are exhausted. And the exhaustion is credited from mental ponderings and considerations of such a vast amount of new knowledge and the new eyes we have brought to a museum even if we have visited it before. Most certainly an exhaustion to treasure and for which to be grateful.
I hope you have enjoyed this vicarious visit to Le Musée d’Orsay with TSLL. I sure have enjoyed having the opportunity to bring it to you as it is a visit that prompted much reflection, appreciation and deeper understanding in my own life. Below are a few more images inside and outside the museum and a video sharing photos of the past 100+ years of the construction and transition the building has underwent. Bonne journée!
Below is a short video that shares wonderful historical images of the original train station and pictures captured during its transitions, as well as current day images. Have a look.
~TSLL’s 4th Annual French Week posts thus far . . .
SUNDAY August 11th