Tag Archives: Paris

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

Continuing on our Monet Trail, one morning we took the metro to a more residential area in western Paris. Blue sky and warm sunshine met us as we came up the station steps. As we scuffled through leaves on the sidewalks and picked up smooth mahogany chestnuts, we enjoyed the arrival of fall.

 

The Musee Marmottan Monet is near the Bois de Boulogne, where Degas painted his horse racing scenes, and where other Impressionists sometimes painted people picnicking or strolling beside lakes.

The Picnic, Claude Monet

The Bois de Boulogne was once part of a forest where French kings and nobles hunted. By the time of the Impressionists, it had become a fashionable park that had been part of Napoleon III and Baron Haussmann’s drastic modernization of Paris in the 1850s. This included, not only parks, but broad new boulevards and modern apartment buildings that displaced thousands of poor Parisians to the city’s outskirts.

It’s the Paris we see in Impressionist paintings–Paris from the Louvre by Monet and Le Pont de L’Europe by Caillebotte

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About this same time Jules Marmottan bought a former hunting lodge on the eastern side of the Bois de Boulogne, and he and his son turned it into a mansion with fine furniture and art. The son left the mansion and its art to the French Academy of Fine Arts, which opened it to the public in 1939.

Musee Marmottan Monet now houses the largest collection of Monet’s paintings in the world, many coming directly from the artist’s family, because Michel Monet, the artist’s second son, left the collection he inherited from his father to the Marmottan. Other works came from the doctor who was the personal physician of many of the Impressionists.

Although it doesn’t have the huge water lily canvases of Musee de L’Orangerie, it does have a number of large water lily paintings, as well works by other Impressionists.

And it hasImpression, Sunrise,

Impression, Sunrise, clause Monet, author photo

 the painting by Monet that gave the movement its name. In it Monet painted a sunrise over Le Havre harbor, showing how the water and the sun’s reflections on it sparkled and changed moment by moment. Sunrise was in the Impressionist’s first exhibit in 1874, and a magazine critic made fun of the paintings, especially Monet’s. The critic titled his article, “Exhibition of the Impressionists,” and the name stuck.

Seeing that painting at the Marmottan , and sitting surrounded by water lily paintings and wandering through the galleries to see other works was a delightful way to prepare us for our visit to Giverny, the inspiration for the water lily paintings that occupied Monet for the last 20 years of his life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

From my last post:   Here are the answers to the differences between the subjects preferred by some Impressionists

  • Monet and Pisarro both favored landscapes, but when Monet included people, they were middle class people enjoying a walk or time in a garden. Pissarro painted country scenes, which often showed peasants at work in gardens and fields.
  • Renoir and Degas preferred to paint people, but Renoir liked to paint happy people dancing or  dining at cafes. His women and children are dressed in their best. Degas painted a more work-a-day world of laundresses and poorer girls, who became ballerinas to earn a living.
  • Morisot and Cassatt made moving and beautiful paintings of family members, especially of mothers and children. They may have wished to branch out more, (Cassatt once did paintings of bull fighters), but middle class women led a fairly restricted life at this time. They couldn’t roam Paris or the countryside on their own, as did the men.

Activities

  1. Read about Baron Haussmann and his modernization of Paris. Look at Gustave Caillebotte’s painting, Paris, a Rainy Day and paintings of Paris by other Impressionists to see some of those wide boulevards and iconic apartment buildings
  2. Look at some of Monet’s paintings that include water, one of his favorite subjects. It’s fun to see how he painted reflections in short dashes of color.

Molly enjoyed the cooler autumn weather, too.

Next up, the train trip to Giverny, going through Gare St. Lazare, the same train station that the Impressionists often used, and that Monet painted  a number of times.

Sign up to receive the next Kathythepicturelady post and read about the Impressionists’ love of trains.

All photos in this post were taken by the author.

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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.