Musée de l’Orangerie
The Musée de l’Orangerie is an art museum in Paris most known for its collection of late 19th and early 20th century painting, including a monumental Water Lilies cycle by Claude Monet.
History and building
The museum is housed in a 19th century orangery, once used to shelter citrus trees from the Tuileries gardens in winter.
The neoclassical-style building of the Orangerie, constructed in 1852 after a design by architect Firmin Bourgeois and decorated by artist Louis Visconti, was used as a greenhouse – as well as a venue for banquets, concerts and shows – until the early 1920s.
In 1922, the French government took the decision to transform the old greenhouse into an art gallery dedicated to living artists, and to install there a monumental Water Lilies 8-panel painting cycle by Claude Monet. Therefore, a complete renovation of the building was carried out by architect Camille Lefèvre in close collaboration with Monet himself.
The new museum, entitled Musée Claude Monet, opened to the public on May 17, 1927; it was later renamed Musée National de l’Orangerie des Tuileries.
After the World War Two, the museum was again renovated and, though donations and acquisitions, has become an institution specifically focused on French modern art especially from the late 19th to the early 20th century.
In 2006, an underground expansion of the museum – containing temporary exhibition spaces, an auditorium, educational rooms, and a library – was built after a design by Brochet Lajus Pueyo architects.
Musée de l’Oangerie, Paris, south facade; photo: xiquinhosilva
The art collection of the Musée de l’Orangerie
The Musée de L’Orangerie is renowned for its collection of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and early-20th century painting, which features pieces by Paul Cézanne, Alfred Sisley, Auguste Renoir, Paul Gauguin, Maurice Utrillo, Henri Matisse, Amedeo Modigliani, Douanier Rousseau, Chaïm Soutine, André Derain, Marie Laurencin, Pablo Picasso, and Kees Van Dongen.
Yet, as mentioned above, the museum is possibly best known for its impressive Water Lilies cycle by Claude Monet, composed by eight decorative panels painted between 1918 and 1926. Spanning a total length of 91 meters overall, the painting was a gift by Monet to the French State aimed to celebrate peace after the end of Wold War One; exposed into two oval rooms, the museum’s is by large the world’s most grandiose and ambitious ensemble among the almost 300 water lilies paintings Monet made from 1899 until his death, in December 1926.
Though not very large, the sculpture collection of the museum includes some interesting works by Auguste Rodin, and Henry Moore.
One of the galleries of the museum, renovated in 2006; photo courtesy of Brochet Lajus Pueyo architects
The Musée de l’Orangerie also hosts temporary exhibitions, conferences, film screenings, educational programs and workshops for schools, children and families.
The museum’s building, completely accessible to people with disabilities, includes a library, an historical archive, a bookshop-giftshop, and a cafe.
Claude Monet, Water Lilies (French: Les Nymphéas), 8-panel cycle, oil on canvas; general view (photo: Jon) and detail (photo: Adrian Scottow)
Musée de l’Orangerie, gallery of works by Amedeo Modigliani; photo: Christopher Brown
Three works by Auguste Renoir on view in the museum; (left to right): Claude Renoir playing, ca.1905, oil on canvas; Claude Renoir in Clown Costume, 1909, oil on canvas; Blond Girl with Rose, ca. 1915-1917, oil on canvas; photo: mckrista1976
Paul Cézanne gallery; photo: Christopher Brown
Paul Cézanne, Portrait de Madame Cézanne, ca. 1890, oil on canvas; photo: mckrista1976
Cover image: Musée de l’Orangerie, west facade; photo: Daisuke Sakai
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copyright Inexhibit 2019 - ISSN: 2283-5474