Tag Archives: France

On the Trail of Monet’s Cathedrals and Haystacks: Musee d’Orsay, Paris

When my husband and I visited northern France recently,  one of our delights was to enjoy Impressionist art in two Paris museums that have large Impressionist collections, see as many of Monet’s cathedral and haystack paintings as possible, and travel to the sites where Monet painted them.

When Impressionist art finally caught on and began to sell, Monet bought a farmhouse and land in Giverny, just an hour by train west of Paris near the Seine River. He devoted years and lots of francs to creating and painting his gardens and also spent much time on several series of paintings that highlight his passion to show how light constantly changes an object, (haystacks, poplars, cathedral) depending on time of day or weather.

We planned and followed our own “Monet Trail” from Paris to Giverny and on to Rouen in Normandy.

We began with Musee d’Orsay in Paris. (In the left photo above, Musee s’Orsay is to the left of the Eiffel Tower. Photo taken from the Tuileries)

Musee d’Orsay began as Gare d’Orsay, a large, ornate train station

Gare d’Orsay, wikimedia

across the Seine from the Louvre, serving trains coming from southwestern France, but by 1939 the trains had outgrown its short platforms. The station eventually faced demolition, but in the 1970s it was listed as an historical monument and saved. An idea surfaced to turn the station into a museum for Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art, which didn’t fit the Louvre, whose collection ended in the mid 1800s, or the Pompidou Center, which houses more modern art—think Picasso.

So Gare d’Orsay reopened its doors in 1986 as Musee d’Orsay, and once again people rush to get in.

You must still run a gauntlet of shops, but instead of food and neck pillows, posters, paint sets, and umbrellas, all with Impressionist scenes, tempt you.

We resisted and emerged into a huge open space. Beneath its soaring glass roof, trains once pulled in, slowing to a stop at platforms where travelers waited to board.

 

 

 

 

A gold decorative design still climbs the walls and arches across the roof. A large, gilded clock that once helped passengers get to their trains on time, still hangs high above.

Look back at the old station photo above to see the clock and that the walls and roof haven’t changed much.

But statues now stand where the tracks ran, and people now step into galleries of Realist paintings (Millet, Corot, etc.) and Post-Impressionist works (Van Gogh, Seurat, etc.) instead of into trains.

We would come back to those, but hoping to beat the crowds, we walked to the far end of the museum to take a series of escalators to the very top, where under the roof, rooms of incredible Impressionist art follow one another like train cars.

Woman with Parasol paintings by Monet

We spent several happy hours with colorful and light-filled paintings by Monet, Pissarro, Degas, Morisot, Renoir, Cassatt, and others. And among the paintings, we saw several from Monet’s haystack and cathedral series!

We took time to look out at Paris through the 2 mammoth clocks way up there under the roof and stroll on the balcony that gives amazing views of the Louvre all the way to Sacre Coeur on top of Montmartre. A bright beginning to our vacation!

 

 

 

 

And how wonderful that France has preserved this historic station and used it so appropriately for displaying Impressionist art. I’ll explain why it’s so appropriate in an upcoming post. But my very next post will be about another terrific, but lesser-known, collection of Impressionist art in Paris.

Activity

The Impressionists had many things in common such as their colorful modern subjects, but some preferred landscapes, while others enjoyed painting people.

Look at a few paintings by the following artists, and you’ll soon see what each preferred. But also notice the subtle differences between types of landscapes or types of people. Monet vs. Pissarro; Degas vs. Renoir. And why do you think the women, Berthe Morisot and Mary Cassatt, concentrated on family life? Was that just their preference or was there another reason? Let me know what you think!

Molly loves the Paris lifestyle!

Sign up to receive Kathythepicturelady posts and find out about our next stop in Paris, the one that has the world’s largest collection of Monet’s paintings, including the painting that gave the art movement its name, Impression, Sunrise. And to find out how individual Impressionist artists differed.

Except for the old postcard of Gare d’Orsay, all photos in this post were taken by the author.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thinking and Writing about Jean Honore Fragonard’s Painting, A Young Girl Reading

I hope you’ve been enjoying the art activities in the last couple posts. Here are some thinking and writing activities to finish our study of A Young Girl Reading.

A Young Girl Reading wikimedia commons

Thinking and Writing about Art

Project 1, Thinking about Fragonard’s Painting

  •    What do you think the young girl is reading?
  •     In the 1700s did most girls learn to read?
  •     Do you like her hair style and her dress?
  •     Do these styles fit where and when the artist lived?  (Paris,  1700s)
  •     Would these styles fit with our time for any activities or not?
  •     Who do you think Fragonard made this painting for?
  •     Where do you think it would have hung? (remember, it didn’t always hang in a museum!!)

How could you update this painting’s subject to today’s world?

  •    What would the young girl be wearing?
  •    What would her hair look like?
  •    What else could she be holding to read?
  •     Where else might she be?

Project 2, Writing about Fragonard’s Painting

    Write a story as if you are this young girl. Here are some sentences to get you started:

 Bonjour, my name is______________________. I live in ________________________.  Monsieur

 

Fragonard painted this picture of me for_____________________________. I enjoy reading

 

about_____________________________. I have a pet_________________, and its name

 

is___________________.  My friends and I like to___________________________.

 

Project 3, Writing about You

 Writing or Drawing

     Write about or draw a picture of your favorite spot telling or showing why it’s special. Is it quiet or noisy? Are you alone or with friends? What do you do there—read, play games, watch TV, daydream?

__________________________________________

 I hope you’ll have fun and let me know in the comments how you enjoyed these project. 

I have a couple writing deadlines coming up in May, so I need to take a short break to finish these, but I plan to be back in June with a whole new artwork to study and enjoy with various activities . 20170724_203723

Molly’s resting up to get ready, so you get ready, too! Sign up to receive these posts by email.

 And don’t forget to visit my website to see the art workshops and other types of presentations I’m available to do! See the details at:      www.kathy-oneill.com