A fantastic and hugely reasonable price of 8 Euros (temporary exhibits, combined tickets and guided tours were extra, of course) saw us into the stunning, high-ceilinged gallery. For me, visiting the Musee d’Orsay was all about seeing Monet – so Zoe and I headed straight up to the fifth floor, where their Impressionism collection is housed.
Impressionism* is the Art movement that first grabbed me years ago; pulled me into loving art and the emotions, interpretations and opinions that it evokes – and often provokes. I’m not well-schooled in Art, unfortunately (I’d love to go back to uni to do Art History...but that would come after I do the MA in Creative Writing – neither of which I can afford at the moment!), but I do know what I like; what moves me, what pins me to the spot and makes me think about its story, its origination and evolution. Landscapes and seascapes are my weak point, and though I’m not keen on portraiture (why always so sombre and dark a palette, why such cheerless expressions?), I don’t mind figures in a picture; tableaux and gatherings which speak of stories, hint at intrigue to be discovered and unpicked.
And there perhaps is the heart of me: Art is like so much else in my life – a story. The chosen artist’s subject, palette and brushstrokes are like vocabulary, syntax and imagery for me; a language that I can recognise and interpret, if not duplicate. There is voice, tone and imagination in a picture; it can be read, heard. Known. That sense, that ability and effect, is the compulsion which drives my writing and reading – for I want to create, to share, that in my own work; and I am exhilarated when I find it in another’s.
Of course, in Art, as in life, there are always different horses for different courses – what one person adores, another cannot fathom. I don’t expect that you will see the same as I do when looking at the paintings which inspire me, but I hope you find something in them. Monet is my all-time favourite, but I also like (and discovered some of these courtesy of the Musee d’Orsay, so thank you!): selected work from Renoir, Gustave Courbet, Alfred Sisley, Gustave Caillebotte, selected Degas, and Pissaro. Interestingly, Zoe was drawn immediately to the ornate frames in which the paintings sat proudly, commenting on which ones she felt suited or not, and whether they used mounts or not. Perhaps this is the eye of the artist’s daughter: to see how the painting is finished, framed, and put together; influenced, presented. Offered.
Understandably, we weren’t allowed to take photos of the paintings, so I share some of my favourites taken from Google Images below:
Houses of Parliament, the Sun Shining through the Fog - Monet
Villas at Bordighera - Monet
Blue Water Lillies - Monet
The Cliffs of Etretat After the Storm - Courbet
The Reader - Renoir
Sidestepping from the fantastic art on show – all floors and exhibits are worth seeing, and I even spotted the writing desk of my dreams which, one day far away when I get published, I will commission a carpenter to make for me! – ...
...the actual building of the Musee d’Orsay is stunning too. Once a railway station, now converted into an art museum, it is an inviting and striking place – it was great to take a moment, sit on a bench and just take in the arched ceiling with its repeating pattern of decorated squares, almost like delectable chocolates wrapped in gold gilt paper.
I managed to sneak a couple of photos (as did everyone else!) looking out from behind the gothic clock faces, and later the facade from the outside:
So if you should find yourself in Paris, ambling along the River Seine and you spot the calling-card architecture of the Musee d’Orsay, pop in and while away a few hours – you won’t be disappointed.**
*For those not in the art-know, I’m talking an impression of a scene, rather than an exact replica of the scene itself; made up of warm and complementary colours, swirling, blurring brushstrokes and attention given to the way light strikes a subject.
**If you (somehow?!) are disappointed, please note the following disclaimer: Deb’s Pen Pot does not offer an exchange or refund on any trip taken; does not accept blame for suggesting excursions; and does not offer improve-your-art-taste courses - though she might cheekily recommend you take one!