Paris is art and art is Paris. Most probably the first thing that pops up in people’s minds is the Louvre and inseparably the Mona Lisa. Although I must admit that the world’s most visited museum has an impressive collection of masterpieces, my favorite museum is actually a different one, just across the other side of the Seine: Musée d’Orsay.
This former railway station was constructed in 1900, opening its doors as a national museum on 9 December 1986. The museum displays a great diversity of Western world artworks created between 1848 and 1914 and was formed from the national collections of the Louvre, Musée Jeu de Paume and the National Museum of Modern Art.
The reason why I admire Musée d´Orsay the most is because it houses the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings in the world!!! And why my love for Impressionism? In my opinion Impressionism as a movement was a turnaround in the history of art. At that time, the invention of photography changed the role of paintings dramatically as it helped the artists to study movement surroundings and real-life spontaneity in detail. Additionally, paint tubes were first introduced in 1841, allowing painters to paint en plein air instead of being convined to their ateliers. Pierre-August Renoir even stated `Without tubes of paint, there would have been no Impressionism´. Artists became free to put more focus on their impression of reality instead of reality in itself, mostly depicting people and everyday landscapes instead of religious historical scenes.
Musée d´Orsay has so many paintings which played a crucial role for the Impressionism movement, that I don’t even know where to start! Okay, then let’s begin with my all time favorite: Renoir’s Bal du Moulin de la Galette (depicted above). Next to this painting, you’ll find other masterpieces by Van Gogh, Monet, Cézanne, Manet, Degas, Sisley, Delacroix, Courbet and Millet to name a few. If you’re too impatient to await visiting Musée d’Orsay, a part of its collection is beautifully captured online in the Google Art Project.
Finally, a small advice if you want to visit Musée d’Orsay during the weekends: go early! Start your day by visiting this museum, especially the first Sunday of the month, when most musea in Paris are free of entry. A one hour line is not an exception. Another option is to buy your tickets online in advance, which you can find here. Enjoy!
1 Rue de la Légion d’Honneur, 75007
Open: Daily from 9:30 – 18:00, Thursday till 21:45, closed on Mondays
Metro: Solférino (12)
Photo credit: Musée d’Orsay