Houses of Parliament by Claude Money


Luncheon on the Grass by Manet






The Cardplayers by Paul Cezanne

Starry Night over the Rhone by Vincent Van Gogh

















































































Musee d'Orsay, Paris

Musee d'Orsay, Paris - a Treasury of Impressionist Art

When visiting Paris, it’s always recommended to stop by the Louvre—the world’s largest art museum—and spend some time touring it if possible. The museum is one of the finest in the world, and is typically mentioned among the top attractions in Paris, right alongside the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame. The Louvre is extraordinary, and certainly one of the highlights of a city that’s full of extraordinary things to see and do.

That said, there are many other excellent museums in Paris, and those who truly love art would do well to explore them. Musée d’Orsay is one of these. Located right on the Seine, and just on the opposite bank from the Louvre, it’s another very large museum, though one that somehow feels a little bit more intimate than you might expect from the outside. It’s built into what was once an ornate train station (and still feels like one in an oddly comforting way)—it opened at the turn of the 20th century. More so than the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay focuses more on French art, with some exceptions. The collection includes paintings, sculptures and photographs, with a primary focus on Impressionism and post-Impressionism.

Museums like this can only truly be appreciated when you visit in person. But to give you some idea of what you might see, aside from the unique and beautiful surroundings, here’s a look at some of the best and most famous works in the museum’s collection.

London, Houses of Parliament by Claude Monet
Monet has a few more famous works, but Houses of Parliament, London is one of his most unique and possibly his most striking. It’s at least in part a departure from the more natural scenes Monet painted more typically, although the focus on mist, water and sunlight still dominates the painting. There’s almost something haunting about it, as if the painting is merely the first image in a series of others that tell an adventure or mystery tale. And, as with most of the best work from Monet, seeing it in person is a richer experience than looking at it online or in a book.

The Luncheon On The Grass by Édouard Manet
Sometimes confused with Monet (a distinction that even earns a line of dialogue in the famous film Ocean’s 11, Manet was a very different sort of painter, and one who was more overt in his depictions and messages. There’s a lot to know about this painting, which is probably Manet’s most famous. It was initially jeered by Parisian elites; it was created as an homage to Raphael, and the nude woman depicted in the image was based on the painter’s favorite model. This is the sort of artwork that might blend in if you looked at it in a series of images. Yet when you really hone in on it, you see something new each time.

Small Dancer Aged 14 by Edgar Degas
There are sculptures in Musée d’Orsay also, and Small Dancer Aged 14 is perhaps the most famous of them. It depicts a young Belgian dancer from the Paris Opera Ballet and is known largely for its use of real material. Though the sculpture is effectively covered in wax, which makes it look like more of a composition, the figure is actually wearing real clothes and even has a wig made from real hair. It’s simply seen as a curious means of creation from Degas, but one that’s become world-famous, and it has inspired a great many imitations.

The Cardplayers by Paul Cézanne
The Cardplayers was highlighted fairly recently when an article took on the subject of the best gambling-themed art, though the same article noted that it’s actually a series of five paintings Cézanne made between 1890 and 1895 (none of which actually explicitly depict gambling). These paintings have been spread out around the world’s museums, but the one that remains at Musée d’Orsay is the most noteworthy. It’s a flawless example of Cézanne’s post-Impressionism and his focus on humble subjects and provincial style.

Starry Night OVER the RHONE by Vincent Van Gogh
This is a painting that needs no introduction, as it’s one of the most famous, and one of the most frequently reproduced, in the world. Van Gogh actually has numerous works housed at Musée d’Orsay, including his iconic self-portrait. But Starry Night Over the Rhone is the best of the bunch, and arguably the very best reason to visit this museum.

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