If the impressionists impress you and you seem to never get enough, you need to go beyond the Musee d’Orsay to be truly satiated. Musee d’Orsay is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg (in shades of steel blue, grays, blacks, variations of white).
Given that you may have only one or two days to get your impressionist fix in Paris, I would suggest, if your primary interest is Claude Monet’s work, that you get yourself to the Musee Marmottan, 2, rue Louis Boilly – 75016 PARIS Metro: Muette, before you make the pilgrimage to his house and gardens in Giverny.
The Marmottan museum is where you’ll see the his painting Impression of the Rising Sun or Impression Sunrise (if you prefer) The entire impressionist movement was coined from a mocking review of this painting during first exhibition in Paris.
The Marmottan collection is the largest and most important collection of Monet’s paintings yet there are also the works of his contempories including Berthe Moriset, one of the few well recognized female impressionist painters, Renoir, Sisley, Pissarro, Boudin and Gauguin.
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Another reason why I prefer the Marmottan collection over other museums’ is for the canvases from his later works when he was starting to lose his vision. Later in life, he had an ailment that caused his vision to degenerate and I wonder if that might explain the wild, almost psychedelic colors he chose for these later works. It’s as if the realization of his inevitable blindness drove him to paint in a bloodbath of color, a personal revolt against the frailty of the human senses.
The one major work that you won’t see here are his Waterlilies (in the huge format that’s reproduced at Giverney). To see the Waterlilies, you’d have to go to the Musee de l’Orangerie (but you can also take the Waterlilies virtual tour on their site).
If the Monet collection at Musee Marmottan weren’t reason enough to visit this dream of a museum, the setting itself adds to the delight for museum-goers who love 19th-century architecture almost as much as what you’ll find inside. This mansion which was home to the founder Jules Marmottan and his son, Paul, Marmottan was purchased form the Duc de Valmy in 1882. Paul was responsible for expanding the original hunting lodge and creating the framework for this museum which still feels more like a private home collection than an impersonal museum. In addition to the impressionist collection you’ll find Napoleonic-era furniture and the Daniel Wildenstein donation
donation, one of Europe’s most outstanding groups of illuminated manuscripts from the 12th. to the 15th. century, including 313 miniatures
To get to the #9 line Metro to the stop La Muette. When you exit, you will find that you’re just a few steps away from one of the 16th arrondissements’s most sedate – and chic parks – the Ranelagh park– where mothers and au pairs watch over their well-dressed children.
MUSEE MARMOTTAN MONET
2, rue Louis Boilly – 75016 PARIS
Tél : 33 (0)1 4224 0702
Fax : 33 (0)1 4050 6584
Closed on MONDAYS.
Information about guided tours: Paris Muse
Impressionism Then and Now: Part II
Please read my next post for the suite of this post.