Now that the Musée d'Orsay has been renovated I made a new visit end March 2012 to see the results.
First point is that the paintings are now on display on walls with a dark grey color with a touch of violet in it. Before the walls were clear.
But the most important innovation is the separation between the Impressionists Manet, Degas, Monet, Cézanne, Renoir, Sisley, etc.. remaining at Level 5 in rooms 29 to 37 and the Post-Impressionists Van Gogh, Gauguin and the School of Pont-Aven, Cross, Seurat, Henri Rousseau coming down to the level 2, on the rue de Lille side in rooms 67 to 72.
This has the advantage of better distribution of visitors who previously congregated at Level 5 to see the Impressionists and the twenty Van Gogh at Orsay .
At Level 0 things have not changed too much and I could find some beloved paintings that make me visit regularly this museum. But I had some disappointment because of some missing highlights. I mentioned already this before. A number of them like the two "Danses" from Renoir and the "la Pie -the Magpie" from Monet are travelling abroad.
I would recommend to art lovers who come from afar to see specific paintings to consult the website of the Musée d'Orsay at Interactive Floor Plan - Map Searching the Gallery to find out if the painting(s) they want to see are present at the museum.
Even if I missed some of my favored paintings I discovered some which I hadn't seen before like that Van Gogh "La nuit étoilée sur le Rhône" in room 71 at Level 2 (not to confuse with the "Starry Night" at the MOMA NYC). A real marvel which has been travelling on all continents so that I had not seen it before.
And then in the Symbolist Gallery at Level 0 I felt in love with a "Jeune Femme Rousse" by Charles Maurin. A very sad love story for me because that portrait is from 1889 so that this young red-haired woman I felt in love with is no more among the alive!
Stop 5, is the Musee D'Orsay, located in a enormous Railway Station. The Musee d'Orsay was not on our must visit list, so a view from the outside only - another building with plenty of interest!
If you are interested in sculptures and impressionist paintings, this may be the museum for you!
This is another building where the Architect had to win a competition to become the builder!. This man was Victor Laloux, who had also designed the railway station in Tours, France. The railway station wasn't a real success, not because of design, because the Trains were being built longer and would no longer fit on the shorter platforms. It closed down and over the years was used as a parking lot, a shooting stand, a theatre location and even as a reception center for prisoners of war.
Now, it is a Museum, and a very popular one!
When it opened the museum contained some 2300 paintings, 1500 sculptures and 1000 other objects, since then, the collection has kept on growing.
The Museum has its own Restaurant and Cafe
If you wish to visit, it's OPEN FROM....9.30am to 6pm daily, except Mondays
late night on Thursdays until 9.45pm
last tickets sold at 5pm (9pm Thursdays)
museum cleared at 5.30pm (9.15pm Thursdays)
ADMISSION IN 2013....9 euros
The museum of Orsay shows some paintings of nudes which in their time (around 1860) where found scandalous.
The art amateur will notice that this decennia of 1860 produced academic nudes such as "Naissance de Vénus" (1863) of Alexandre Cabanel, impressionist nudes like "Déjeuner sur l'herbe" (1863) and "Olympia" (1863) from Edouard Manet as well as realistic nudes such as "Femme nue avec chien" (1862) and "l'Origine du Monde" (1866) from Gustave Courbet.
As for "l'Origine du Monde" of Courbet, acquired in 1995, I notice that today this provocating nudity, an almost anatomical description of the female organs, still arouses emotion. The first years that she was exhibited at Orsay a special security guard was posted in the room!
Now that the Courbet's nude "L'Origine du Monde" is travelling all over the world there is no reason for me not to publish the photo in this review.
About the head of the model for the Courbet's painting "L'Origine du Monde" hereafter the statement of the Musée d'Orsay (Le Figaro 8/02/2013):
Des hypothèses fantaisistes ont récemment été développés autour de L'Origine du monde de Gustave Courbet conservée au musée d'Orsay. Celui-ci souhaite rappeler certains faits bien connus des historiens de l'art. L'Origine du monde est une composition achevée et en aucun cas le fragment d'un œuvre plus grande. Longtemps entourée de secrets y compris dans ses dispositifs de présentation.
Certaines zones d'ombre subsistent dans son historique. Une certitude cependant, confirmée par tous les témoignages du XIXe siècle: le tableau visible chez Khalil-Bey, son premier propriétaire et probable commanditaire, était bien ‘une femme nue sans pieds et sans tête. À cette description de l'œuvre par Gambetta répond celle de Maxime Ducamp qui mentionne en 1878 que Courbet n'avait pas représenté «le cou et la tête» de ce «portait de femme bien difficile à décrire».*
Translation (software + my correction):
Fanciful hypotheses have recently been developed around L'Origine du Monde by Gustave Courbet at the Musée d'Orsay. We would recall some well-known facts of art historians. The Origin of the World is a complete composition and not a fragment of a larger work …
Some gray areas remain in its history. Certainty, however, confirmed by all accounts of the nineteenth century in the painting visible at Khalil Bey, the first owner and probable sponsor, was indeed a naked woman without legs and without a head. In this description of the work by Gambetta that meets the one of Maxime Ducamp in 1878 which mentions that Courbet had not represented the "head and neck" of this "woman portrait was very difficult to describe."
Les nus à scandale d'Orsay!
Le musée d'Orsay comporte quelques tableaux de nus qui ont défrayé la chronique en leur temps (±1860) et dont l'un "l'Origine du Monde" (1866) de Gustave Courbet suscite encore des remous.
Cette même décennie 1860 produisit à la fois des nus aussi académiques que la "Naissance de Vénus" (1863) du néo-classique Alexandre Cabanel, des nus d'inspiration impressionniste comme "Déjeuner sur l'herbe" (1863) et "Olympia" (1863) d' Edouard Manet ainsi que des nus réalistes comme la "Femme nue avec chien" (1862) et "l'Origine du Monde" (1866) de Gustave Courbet.
Les deux nus de Manet, surtout le "Déjeuner sur l'herbe", déchaînèrent les sarcasmes et critiques au Salon de 1863. J'avoue que le contraste entre les deux messieurs en redingote et la dame nue m'interpellent. Qu'allait-elle faire nue dans la forêt; à moins qu'elle ne se soit baignée dans l'étang à l'arrière plan?
Quant à "l'Origine du Monde" de Courbet, acquis en 1995 je constate qu'aujourd'hui encore cette nudité crue, provocante, une description presque anatomique du sexe féminin, suscite de l'émotion: les messieurs la photographient, leur compagne se tient en retrait.
Open 9.30 - 18 h (on Thursday 21.45 h). Closed on Monday.
Tickets can be bought from 9 h on.
Price 9 €. Reduced 18 - 30 yr 6,50 €. Free less than 18 yr or 18 - 25 yr from the EU .
Musee d'Orsay is one of my favorite museums here in Paris. It is located in the former Gare d'Orsay train station which was designed by Victor Lalous in 1900 for the Universal Exposition. The museum isn't overwhelming as the Louvre and you can easily visit all the major wings of the museum in just one visit.
The museum is devoted to mostly works of art produced between 1848 and 1914. There are many beautiful paintings, sculptures, pastels, furniture and art objects from some of the most famous artists of these times like Degas, Renoir, Ache, Latour, Daumir, Courbet, Manet, Gauguin, Pissaro, Toulouse-Lautrec, Klimt Corot, Cezzane and Van Gogh.
Check out my travelogue for pics of the works found inside d'Orsay.
In 1900 a train station was built to the universal exhibition and served as a connection to southwest France until 1939. During the war it was used to the movements of prisoners, and, after the war... Well, why not a museum?
In 1978 was created the museum, that covers all the western arts from 1848 until WW1, and opened to the public in 1988.
There is a new special exhibition "L'IMPRESSIONNISME ET LA MODE", at the Musée d'Orsay from 25 September 2012 till 20 January 2013.
For most of us Impressionism refers to the representation of the nature and all the landscapes painted by the masters of this school. This exhibition with the contribution of the Musée d'Orsay, the Metropolitan Museum of New York and the Art Institute of Chicago, is centered on the city and the way people were dressed i.e. "la Mode de Paris".
What is interesting is that Impressionist painters paint women and men elegantly dressed moving on the boulevards, squares of Paris. Nothing in common with the Academic School but some acquaintances with Gainsborough or Van Dyck.
There is a special ticket for this exhibition (12 €).
The Musée d'Orsay picks up where the Louvre leaves off and so shows works of art from 1848 to 1914. Despite housing a number of worthy pieces I actually prefer the building to it's contents! The building used to be a mainline railway station built by the Orléans Railway company as it's Paris terminus it fell into disuse in the 20th century and almost got demolished in the 1970s before being saved and transformed into the Musée d'Orsay which opened in 1986.
Admission is quite steep at €9 per person, but there are concessions (such as 18-25 year olds who are EU citizens get in free) so check the museum website. If you get the Paris museum pass then entry is included in that pass and so goes a long way towards making that worthwhile.
The museum is open from 9.30 to 6pm, but closed on Mondays. They have late night opening to 9.45pm on Thursdays.
The museum has a strict "No Photography" policy (which I disapprove of entirely as it makes my camera finger itchy!) and so the clickable links in this review link to the museum website which has information and images of the works.
Amongst the paintings in the museum's collection are a number of works by William Bouguereau, an artist I had never been aware of before, and a number of these were amongst the highlights of what I saw, in particular Equality Before Death and my very favourite piece in the whole museum, Dante and Virgil which I feel is refreshing as it escapes the often almost formulaic nature of many of the paintings in many galleries and museums.
In the collection of sculptures are a number of famous works such as The Four Parts of the World and The Dance(very controversial in it's time) by Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux and of course The Gates of Hell by Auguste Rodin.
But try not to get too engrossed in the exhibited works and instead just look around and upwards at the building. It's truly amazing that this was once a train station. If the Gare du Nord was anything like this it would be a much better place to wait for the train back to London!
The museum of Orsay contains a beautiful collection of Auguste Renoir's works among which the two large paintings with dancers impressed me from my first visit here.
"Dance in the country" and "Dance in the city" (1883) belong to the second period called "Ingresque" or "dry" of Renoir. The drawing is more net, the outline more precise than with his first "impressionistic" period (1864-1883).
Renoir wrote "I had gone up to the end of the impressionism and I arrived to the observation that I did not know how to paint or draw." Amazing this questioning by a master of the impressionistic art!
He painted three couples of dancers among whom two are here on display in the museum of Orsay the third is in Boston.
I was particularly seduced by these couples of dancers. The man leaning forwards murmurs soft things to the ear of his partner; she, beautiful woman, red-haired, follows with elegance the movement of the music (a waltz?).
We know that she is Suzanne Valadon who was also a model for Puvis de Chavannes and Toulouse-Lautrec and became herself a painter and mother of the painter Utrillo.
After his short "ingresque" period from 1883 till 1890, Renoir enters his period "nacrée - pearly" The term represents very well the shape, the colour, the light and the sensual delight of this period during which he paints numerous "baigneuses - the bathers".
In the same room 39 are two other beautiful paintings of his pearly period - "période nacrée"
"Jeunes filles au piano" (1892) and "Grand nu" (1907).
Renoir was a very prolific painter: more than 4000 paintings!
NOTE : In July 2008 "Dance in the Country" was not at Orsay but travelling around the world.
MOST UNFORTUNATELY WHEN I VISITED END OF MARCH 2012 THEY HAD AGAIN LEFT ORSAY TO GO DANCING SOMEWHERE ABROAD. THEY SHOULD BE BACK END OF MAY.
Open 9.30 - 18 h (on Thursday 21.45 h). Closed on Monday.
Tickets can be bought from 9 h on.
Price 9 €. Reduced 18 - 25 yr 6,50 €. Free less than 18 yr or 18 - 25 yr from the EU .
Room number 1 in the Musée d'Orsay, the first room on the right on the ground floor, is called Ingres et l'Ingrisme. As soon as you enter you are confronted with one of his most famous paintings, La Source (The Spring).
I learned from the museum's website that Ingres started this picture in 1820, but then put it aside and didn't finish it until 1856. Even then he got two of his students to fill in the background, which seems to have been common practice in those days.
This painting was shown at several exhibitions in the 1850s and 60s, and was widely discussed as a synthesis of the real and the ideal. Is the nude figure a statue or a real person, or both?
In 1857 the painting was bought by Count Charles-Marie Tanneguy Duchâtel for 25000 francs. In his home the painting was "surrounded by large plants and aquatic flowers so that the nymph of the spring looked even more like a real person."
If Ingres were alive today I think he would paint pictures of girls taking photos with their digital cameras. (Or riding bicycles or talking on their cell phones.)
Update: Photography is now forbidden inside the Musée d'Orsay, but it was still allowed when I took these photos in 2008. So my photos are legal, and so are the ones the girls are taking of La Source by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres.
Second photo: On the top floor of the Musée d'Orsay is the impressionist collection, with astounding numbers of famous and familiar paintings. In room 32 alone there are 42 paintings by Renoir, Monet, Pissarro and Sisley. The one in the photo is Le bassin d'Argenteuil by Claude Monet (1840-1926).
Third photo: Another famous painting in the same room, also by Monet: one of the eleven pictures that he painted of La gare Saint-Lazare, one of the six big terminus railroad stations in Paris.
Fourth photo: The Musée d'Orsay also used to be a railroad station, as you can see from this photo that I took from the top of the Tour Seine, the Seine Tower at the back end of the museum.
Musee d'Orsay opened in 1986 in a beautiful building which served as a train station until 1960's. The museum is devoted to the period dating from 1848 to 1914 providing a bridge between the classical Louvre and the modern Centre Pompidou. The main attraction of the museum are the Impressionists with numerous paintings by Renoir, Monet, Manet (which is considered to be in a class of his own), Pissarro, Sisley. Included here are also the post-Impressionist Cezanne, Degas and Vincent Van Gogh. I enjoyed my visit to the Orsay a lot. The collection of Impressionist art is amazing and Musee d'Orsay is one attraction of Paris that is well worth a visit.
Inaugurated in 1986, Musée d'Orsay is one of the city's newer museums. It is housed in an impressive, disused railway station (Gare d'Orsay), which was completed in 1900 for l'Exposition Universelle. The museum displays French/European art mainly from 1850 to 1920, and contains an enviable collection of paintings by famous artists of the period, such as Van Gogh, Manet, Cézanne, Monet, etc. Musée d'Orsay is a favourite of many, not only because it contains a beautiful and recognisable collection of art, but also due to its perfect size, less overwhelming than a museum such as the Louvre, but large enough to make you fulfilled after the visit.
Given my well documented love of railway stations and enjoyment of 'popular' (some would venture 'middlebrow') art, there was never really any doubt that I was going to enjoy the Musée d'Orsay. What I find most bamboozling is why it took me half a lifetime of adult travel (and a couple of dozen visits to Paris) to make it there!
For fear of stating the obvious, Musée d'Orsay is an art museum that has been established in a beautifully restored railway station on the Left Bank of the Seine and is exclusively devoted to the work of the Impressionists. Because Impressionist art is popular and fairly 'accessible' in its subject matter, the museum is hugely popular with both locals and tourists, and I think that one of the reasons why I've been reluctant to visit before now is that I was simply nervous at the prospect of braving the crowds.
After a few minutes in Musée d'Orsay, you start to feel like you've been wrapped in a cosy blanket, fuelled by a smug glow of self satisfaction as you realise that you actually recognise a good deal of the art on display. It doesn't matter that you last saw that picture on a calender or a greetings card or a biscuit tin: the point is that it's familiar to you, and you can even distinguish between the Degas and the Monet. Joking aside, I think that this is hugely important, as there's a lot of elitist crap talked about art - often couched in terms that are meant to exclude and intimidate - whereas ultimately what's really important is whether it appeals to you and whether or not you can relate to it.
Without meaning to trivialise what is an extraordinary collection, wandering around Musée d'Orsay is really like the 'Greatest Hits' compilation of 19th and early 20th century art. The quality of the exhibits is astounding, and however familiar you might be with a painting in reproduction, to see the colour and brushwork up close adds an entirely different dimension to the work. I have always been a sucker for Degas ballerinas and Renoir's poppy strewn cornfields, but I had never begun to understand the appeal of van Gogh until I saw "Starry Night Over The Rhone" up close. NOW I FINALLY GET IT!!!
I cannot recommend this museum highly enough as one of Paris' absolute 'must sees' - right up there with my all time Parisian favourite, the Musée Rodin. I personally find it preferable to the Louvre because it has a consistent theme and is a manageable size: by contrast, the enormity and vast range of content in the Louvre collection makes me exhausted just to think about it. If you are travelling en famille, it would also be much more accessible to children than the Louvre - indeed, on the day I visited, there were lots of kids who were apparently having a good time.
Despite my misgivings (and admittedly on a cold, damp Sunday in late February), the queues were not too fearsome, and a welcome characteristic is that the ticket will allow you to leave and re enter the museum on the day that you visit, so that you can take a break from the sensory overload.
P.S. If you would like the definitive (and yet accessible) guide to Paris' art treasures, you could do no better than to explore the wonderful Paris page developed by brueghel ... so good that I occasionally take a browse for my own cultural edification, even if I don't have a trip to Paris planned!
Update (October 2011): If you're an art enthusiast, then chances are that you'll also consider visiting the wonderful Rodin museum whilst you're in Paris. If so, bear in mind that it is possible to buy a combined 'passport' for Musee d'Orsay and Musee Rodin, which offers a reduction on the entry fees - see the website below for more details - or just bite the bullet and buy the Paris Museum pass (see my other travel tip).
d'Orsey Museum is situated in a building of railway station which was constructed to the World's fair of 1900, but almost was completely thrown to the beginning of the Second world war and prepared to destroy.
In 1973 president Pompidou declared a station as a national monument and decided to create a museum, capable to contain half a century of art as a part in a circuit the Louvre (classical art) - the Center Pompidou (modern art). Works of art created from 1848 till 1920 are presented there.
The greatest interest causes the top floor of a museum - twenty halls where the most significant assembly of products of impressionists is collected. The exposition is presented so: Degas, Monet, Renoir, Pisarro, Sisley, Sesann, Degas, Van Gogh, Manet, Gauguin, Serro, Toulouse- Lotrec.
You can watch my 4 min 53 sec Video Paris Musee d'Orsay out of my Youtube channel.
I have to admit: this is by far my favorite museum in Paris! It felt so cozy to me and so welcoming that I could easily see myself going back there on my next trip to Paris. I liked it way more than the Louvre, who seemed a little bit too commercial at times. And what a good and unique idea to turn an old train station into a museum!
Musee D'Orsay is so welcoming and so amazing that you will definitely loose track of time. Start your visit from the 5th floor, it will be much easier on you and on your feet. They may be hurting by the time you finish visiting the Impressionism gallery!
There is an extensive collection of sculptures by Rodin that will take your breath away. And you will also see the "Small Dancer" sculpture that Degas is well known for.
I was in awe the whole time I was inside the museum. I was planning a visit to the Rodin Museum afterwards, but I was so overwhelmed by the art I have seen here that I have decided to skip the Rodin Museum and let the art of D'Orsay Museum sink in.
One tip: since you are here, make sure you stop by the amazing clock on the 5th floor. Take a picture and lose yourself in the beauty of Paris and the Seine that you will have from the window.
NEW. Since 12 October 2011 new exhibition surfaces (2000 m2) have been opened after renovation works.
Unfortunately some guards went on strike so that the Museum was closed for 6 days at the end of October!
NEW: On 9 August 2011, the Musée d'Orsay unveiled the first of its newly renovated spaces with the opening of the Post-Impressionist galleries. The rooms of the Françoise Cachin Gallery on the Level 2 have been redesigned, and now accommodate the paintings of Gauguin, Van Gogh and Toulouse-Lautrec, Neo-Impressionists like Seurat and Signac, and Nabis such as Vuillard, Bonnard, Vallotton and Denis.
The years 2010 and 2011 were years of frustrations for tourists coming from far away countries. They might not have seen a number of highlights of impressionnism.
Indeed the Musée d'Orsay underwent as from 7/12/2009 till the autumn 2011, important alterations on a third of its surface.
The museum remained open but the entire 5th floor i.e. that of the impressionists and postimpressionists was closed for redecoration.
The visit started with level 0 (works of Courbet, Manet, Monet and Cezanne, sculptures and painting from the years 1850 - 1860 (Ingres, Delacroix, Degas ...) and continued to level 2 with the masterpieces of French and Belgian Art Nouveau, symbolism and Naturalism.
A large number of paintings left for exhibitions all over the world. The incomes of the world tour of the highlights of the museum of Orsay make it possible to finance the transformation. The remainder will be reframed or restored.
NEW: After the Manet special exhibition there is a new one "Beauty, Morals and Voluptuousness in the England of Oscar Wilde" from 13/09/2011 to 15/01/2012.
This exhibition explores the British "aesthetic movement" from the second half of the 19th century. Admission with the museum ticket.
A point that amateurs of paintings might not like is the new interdiction of photos and films since the year 2010 (all my photos are from 2009 and before):
Hereafter the official text:
It is forbidden to take pictures and to film in the museum.
In the interests of the safety of works and visitors, and to ensure a more pleasurable visit, photography and filming are no longer allowed in the museum galleries. This measure has been introduced in view of the increased number of visitors taking photographs “at arm’s length” using mobile phones. Reproductions of most of the works in the collections can be downloaded from the website (catalogue of works, works in focus in particular).
Open: 9.30 -18 h from Monday till Sunday (21.45 h on Thursday).
Price (2012): 9 €, reduced 6,50 €, free 18 yr or 18 - 25 yr from the EU.