Musée de l’Orangerie
I probably say this every week, but I think this is my favorite museum in Paris, if for no other reason than the two gigantichugenormous elliptical rooms that house Monets Water Lilies (Les Nymphéas)
This was a project by Monet to show his ultimate artistic expression. He worked on the Water Lillies that inhabit the rooms from 1914 until his death in 1926. In 1909, when first considering this project, he wrote: “Nerves strained by work would relax in its presence, following the restful example of its stagnant waters, and for he who would live in it, this room would offer a refuge for peaceful meditation in the midst of a flowering aquarium.”
The rooms were designed by him to give Parisians a haven of peace. It was after WWI and we all know how horrific that was for France. Monet wanted a place where people could go and feel the peace and quiet, meditating while gazing upon his mass artwork of lilies. He wanted the feeling of endlessness with water, air, sky and earth all come together and merge ”…the illusion of an endless whole, of water without horizon and without shore”
On the weekend it is extremely crowded, but if you go during the week when it first opens up, you can have the museum to yourself…and what a treat that is. You really see what Monet wanted to give to the public.
But that is not all the museum contains, it also holds the Walter-Guillaume Collection. Paul Guillaume and his wife Domenica collected creative art form the first decades of the 20th century. He gave a lot of support to artists like Picasso, Soutine, Derain as well as Renoir and Cezanne. His ultimate goal was to create his own museum of modern art. Unfortunately he died in 1934 and the dream was never realized. However, his wife, Domenica reorganized the entire collection and decided to give the majority of it to the state (damn, that was nice of her.)
To reach the collection you leave the Water Lillies and venture to the 2nd level entering a long hall where each “room” contains a collection of each artist. First there is Derain’s Golden Age of paintings followed by Soutine/Utrillo, two really tormented artists (just look at their paintings)
Along come Picasso and his pal Matisse. (Guillaum never liked Matisse but his wife did so they bought lots of his paintings) At the end you have Rousseau and Modigliani, called the Modern Primitives.
And last but not least, there is one long gallery containing Cézanne and Renoir, (love those guys) and they are a nice contrast to the rest of the exhibit.
I came away with a feeling of peacefulness, thanks Monet and your gigantichugenormous rooms of Water Lillies…I needed a day of calm and you are just what the Doctor ordered…