Mention the word Impressionists and I’ll run on water to view an original. If you share that passion, a visit to Musée de l’Orangerie is imperative.
The Impressonist and Post-Impressionist art gallery is located in Jardin des Tuileries in Paris’s 1st arrondissement, between the Louvre and Place de la Concorde. It was built in 1852 to shelter the garden’s orange trees and also to exhibit agriculture, animals, plants and other rare art of the day.
Seventy years later, the story picks up quite nicely.
On 12 April 1922, Claude Monet signed a contract donating his series of Nymphéas panels painted on canvas to the French government, to be housed in the Orangerie. He even collaborated with the head architect of the Louvre in drafting plans for a vestibule where the canvasses would hang – maximising on natural light, keeping the lines clean and decor limited.
Then Monet chickened out and kept the artwork for himself; reason unknown but artists are a passionate fickle bunch so we understand. It was only after his death in December 1926 that the panels came into the physical possession of the Orangerie and installation commenced. The process entailed glueing the eight canvasses directly onto the curved walls of the auditorium, and the exhibition opened to the public three months later.
It is magnificent!
I spent some beautiful quiet time in this vestibule; just being. The sheer scale of a space and works designed by a master struck a silencing awe I cannot offer justice to. Here, one is compelled to revere how an artist manifests his passion by creating tangible pieces which transcend time and trends. One can also admire the French for their sense of historical preservation regardless of politics. I hope we, in South Africa, never regret deleting the past in an attempt to forget.
After a while, I meandered two floors down to view 1920’s art dealer Paul Guillaume’s ‘Modern’ and ‘Return To Order’ collections. Here I found my favourite Renoir nude, a Picasso you may not recognise as it falls outside of his Cubism and Blue periods, and a soupçon of Cezanne’s and Derains. *she bends to pick up the names she’d dropped*
Back outside, my walk through the Tuileries Jardin seemed less about the incessant cold weather and more about shape, symmetry and this city’s continuous ode to the history and preservation of art.
Without a doubt, this was the most civilised way of spending a rainy Sunday afternoon in Paris.
love & light
PS: Have you read my post here on my holiday diet which comprises solely of bread, cheese and wine. Well, nothing has changed and for good reason. Tomorrow, we’re going luxury shopping!