Musée d’Orsay is the golden child of impressionist art. It houses the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces in the world, by recognizable painters including Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Sisley, Gauguin, and Van Gogh. I promise you don’t have to be any kind of art enthusiast to get pleasure from time spent at the d’Orsay. Seeing original paintings and sculptures you at one point studied in school or have been seeing on bookmarks and screensavers for years is pretty darn delightful. It is my personal favorite of the larger museums in Paris. Although the Louvre is magnificent in its own right, the Muśee d’Orsay charms me with its gorgeous interior, natural light and open presentation of art. When confronted with so many famous paintings, the airy, central hall and three well organized levels make so the museum isn’t overwhelming or intimidating.
Most all of the French paintings, sculptures and decorative objects held in the d’Orsay date from 1848 to 1914. This museum is extremely special in that it generally only covers art from a span of 65 years- but what a brilliant 65 years it was! The term “impressionism” was created to describe the work of a select group of Parisian painters in the late 19th century. With their thin brush strokes and explosion of color and lighting on mundane subjects, impressionists’ painters like Monet, Mary Cassatt, and Alfred Sisley confounded critics, defied conventions, and sparked scandal. Rebels back then but among the most revered and influential artists of all time today.
Thirty-two years young, the museum is housed in the former Gare d’Orsay, a Beaux-Arts railway station built in just two years for the 1900 World Fair. The station is located on the Left Bank of the Seine river. When railway technology advanced, the station was rendered useless, closing in 1939 and then becoming a host of random venues including movie sets and later an auction house, and a hotel. The museum formed its collection in 1986 from works from the Louvre, Musée du Jeu de Paume, and the former National Museum of Modern Art.
At AmericanConcierge.com we offer a private 2-hour Highlights tour of the d’Orsay. Depending on the time of your travels, various special exhibitions will be on display and introduced by your guide. The calendar for the exhibits distinct to the Musée d’Orsay is as follows.
Relatively unknown, 19th century polychrome (painted, printed, or decorated in several colors) sculpture is one of the key facets of the history of the discipline. Until the beginning of this century, the only colors permitted in statuary were the white of marble and the monochrome patina of bronzes.
The Musée d’Orsay and the Musée national Picasso-Paris have organized an exceptional exhibiton dedicated to Pablo Picasso’s blue and rose periods. This exhibition is the first large-scale collaboration between the two museums, allowing a number of previously unseen works to be brought together. It features masterpieces, some of which, such as La Vie(1903, Cleveland Museum of Art), are being presented for the first time in France, and proposes a new interpretation on the years 1900-1906, a critical period in the artist’s career which to date has not been covered in its entirety by a museum.
The exhibition seeks to explore the interesting relationship between father, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, a painter, and son, Jean Renoir, a renown film director and actor. Through photographs, costumes, posters, drawings and documents, some of which are on display for the first time, this multidisciplinary exhibition explores the themes (the role of the female model, for example) and locations (the River Seine, Montmartre, Southern France) common to the two artists.
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The Château de Fontainebleau, just 35 miles southeast of central Paris, can proudly claim to have been a sovereign residence for eight centuries. Capétiens, Valois, Bourbons, Bonaparte and Orléans, all members of French ruling dynasties, have lived within these walls. The chateau dates back to 1137—and centuries of royals have expanded this former royal hunting lodge to a more than 1,500-room estate. Most of what you’ll see dates back to the 16th century, a combination of Italian Renaissance art and French design, these rooms are some of the most intricate and breathtaking in France. If times allows, you can enjoy lunch in this charming area.
Tour Length: 5 – 6 hours