The Musee de L'Orangerie is a gem of a museum, located in the beautiful Tuileries Gardens near the Place de la Concorde.
The building itself was constructed in 1852, during the reign of Napoleon III and the Second Empire. Originally designed to house the potted orange trees which were brought inside during Winter months, it was also used as housing for soldiers during World War I.
Most people visit the museum to see Claude Monet's (1840-1926) eight panels of "Les Nympheas" or Water Lilies set within their original installation of 1927.
Monet was obsessed with the painting of water lilies in his latter years, which he spent at his lovely home in Giverny.
With failing eyesight, he worked on this series of paintings from 1914 until 1926. Monet and the French State struck a deal, determining that these panels would be given a permanent home at Musee de l'Orangerie. Thus they were installed there a year after his death, all eight huge curved panels, drawing the visitor into the bucolic serenity of the lily ponds at Giverny. The main floor of the museum is all Monet, a poignant tribute to the Father of Impressionism. The name itself is attributed directly to a painting of Monet's called, "Impression, Sunrise".
This canvas was debuted in Paris, 1874 and was harshly criticized for its non-conformist style which was shockingly avant-garde. A typical critic's description of the painting..."wallpaper".
The bottom floor houses the collection of the legendary art collector/dealer, a man who dominated the Paris art scene for thirty years, until he died in 1934, Paul Guillaume.
Here you will be captivated by the charming canvases of the artists Guillaume championed, such as August Renoir, Paul Cezanne, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, and Maurice Utrillo.
After six years of renovation, including the meticulous protection of the canvases, which were not removed from the walls, the museum reopened in 2006. During renovation, the existence of a 16th century wall was discovered, which was then incorporated into the design of the building. The total cost of the project was approximately 36 million dollars. The French do love their art!
MUSEE DE L'ORANGERIE
Jardin des Tuileries
Free Admission First Sunday of Every Month
Open Daily 9-6 Closed Tuesdays
To view the most extensive collection in the world of Claude Monet's work, visit the Musee Marmotttan Monet at the Western edge of the expansive park, the Bois de Boulogne.
MUSEE MARMOTTAN MONET
2, rue Louis-Boilly
Metro: Ma Muette