Musee d’Orsay

It is good advice to visit the d’Orsay in the mid-afternoon when the tours have gone (thank you DK Guide) . Thursday is late closing too, so you don’t have to feel rushed. Stamina is required, however. The museum is much more extensive than I remembered from last time (2013 I think).

Here’s a clue that it was once a railway station:

I was keen to revisit the art nouveau section which had impressed me.

The furniture seems to follow the curves of the tree.

It is about the whole building, according to the audio commentary; you couldn’t place it out of context and expect a happy result. But wouldn’t you do great work at a desk like this? Look at those drawer handles!

This bench was part of an art nouveau building, and you can see it needed that context:

The detail is integral. Here, the hooks on this hat and umbrella stand are like vine leaves, gentle on your hat I would expect.

There were slug handles on a book cabinet.

And happy readers on the top:

I think this was by a female artist…can anyone confirm? Reminiscent of Klimt with its gold detailing.

One of the designers featured was also the designer of the famous art nouveau metro signs.

Now I am behind the clock with a view of Montmartre and the Sacre Coeur.

The Impressionist section was crowded, unsurprisingly. We have a tendency to gravitate to the familiar, to see the originals.

I’ve had a large block-mounted print from this Renoir series since I was a university student and can’t bring myself to part with it.

A print of the card players by Cezanne hung in the Girls’ High corridor leading to the art room when I was a student there. I was impressed only by the incongruity of a picture of men smoking and playing cards. We had some wise teachers.

Still, I prefer the still life to the right.

Another view through the clock, this one across the Seine to the Louvre. I’m not planning to visit the Louvre this time after many previous visits – unless someone would like to change my mind…

There were sculptures, symbolist paintings, endless galleries on multiple levels and on each side of an open atrium space.

Stamina was required, as shown by these women holding up the world:

That’s Africa on the left, her chains broken to symbolise the abolition of slavery. America is on the right with the headdress.

The other side shows Asia on the right, the other…the Baltic states, perhaps? My DK Guide says Oceania was left out for reasons of symmetry!

Speaking of the Baltic States, there was an exhibition of paintings from there, called Ames Sauvages. I was hoping to see some Scandinavian art, but it was mostly Estonian or Lithuanian. This birch forest reminded me of Scandinavia:

And, finally, there was Van Gogh – a troubled soul himself although this painting gives no hint of that – or are those bright flowers beginning to droop?

I was a little grumpy about the lack of female painters represented. It was good to see these formidable women outside:

True to form, I was distracted from my walk back to the hotel by Boulevard St Germain, a bookshop,

and Angelina cafe at the entrance to Jardin du Luxembourg. It was hot, I was in need of an iced chocolate and, oh well, a citrus tart to go with it.

There were more women playing pétanque today.

Art at L’Orangerie

I don’t always have any particular plans as I set out in the morning. I’ll have a direction in mind, but can change if I see a sign pointing to a place on my list – or not on my list, as was the case with L’eglise St Germain.

A sign pointing to L’Orangerie sent me over the Seine via wooden footbridge into the Tuileries Gardens. This plot is amongst the formal avenues of trees:

Monet was inspired by his garden at Giverney, obsessed even, planning its layout and colours quite meticulously. Mum’s love of Monet’s paintings and her interest in his story, led us to visit the garden in 2015. I was grateful for that as I “fell into” the paintings at L’Orangerie.

The “Morning” panel seemed to grow in depth and dimension the more I looked at it. This gives some idea, but the photos are inadequate.

The “Sunset” panel glowed, while the willow tree panels and water lilies (which Monet preferred to call ‘nymphae’) were more familiar images.

There were benches in the centre of the two large oval spaces so you could sit and just look. And learn: the audio commentary pointed out that the paintings were startling at the time because there is no horizon or landmark.

The Guillaume Collection in L’Orangerie gives a pictorial glimpse into the change in art in the early 20th Century with Paul Guillaume’s “ability to reconcile modernity and tradition” according to the Guide.

So there is Renoir:

And Modigliani, featuring a portrait of Paul Guillaume on the left:

And Derain:

And Rousseau, often spurned by critics for his “primitive” style. This painting features the Wright brothers’ aircraft:

I was pleased to find at least one female artist in the collection. Marie Laurencin designed stage sets for the ballet as well as painting. The portrait on the right is of Coco Chanel.

There is a section of modern art which is connected by technique to the work of Monet, apparently. I guess I don’t have Guillaume’s ability to reconcile traditional and modern! Yet Monet was very much part of ‘modernity’ in his time.

I didn’t particularly feel the need to detox after all that art (and there was more to come in the afternoon) but “Garden Detox” was the name of this fruit cocktail I had at an outdoor cafe in the Tuileries. Kiwi fruit, cucumber, mint…

And more art, with crows, nearby: