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Musłę D'Orsay November 2003

As my last experience on my big trip I decided to take the TGV (high speed train) from Nice to Paris, spend a couple days in museums, then take the Chunnel train on to London and fly back. The weather in Paris was not nice, so the days in the museums turned out to be time well spent. I studied up on my Impressionists before going and that really enhanced the experience. They would not let me take pictures at the National Gallery in London, so sorry, one Van Gogh in particular ("Yellow Wheat and Cypresses") was just stunning. Anyway, first day in Paris was spent at the D'Orsay which exhibits primarily "modern" painters and is probably best known for it's Impressionist collection. I was also happily surprised by the collection of Art/Deco Gausiesque furniture.

Most of the titles will be in French, but I will attempt to translate them (look out!). Handy tip... if you have a large memory card on your camera, take pictures of the painting info immediately after taking the picture of the painting. It helps to sort things out afterwards.

Background on Impressionism

Calude Monet

Railroad Bridge, Argenteuil, 1874

Berthe Morisot

The Butterfly Hunt, 1874


The Picnic (Le Dejeuner sur l'Herbe), 1862-1863

Here is Manet again trying to shock the viewer, this is essentially a classically composed scene, and in that context the nudes are not out of place... but the presence of the two "gentlemen" bring the "picnic" into question. Manet paints the scene as if the viewer, out for a walk, has stumbled upon the scene... and again, the direct gaze of the woman helps complete the effect. What is here expression telling you?

Gustave Caillebotte

Vie de toits, effet de neige Toits sous la neige, 1879

Gustave Caillebotte

The Floor Scrapers, 1876

Whistlers Mama
Edgar Degas

Ballet Rehersal on the Stage, 1874

Not a great photo, but notice the "sepia tone" quality of the painting. It has been argued that Degas was having some fun with the new medium of photography, but creating a photgraphic scene, but capturing a moment that it would be impossible to capture with a camera... the interaction of all the dancers and the spectator.

Edgar Degas

Le champ de courses, jockeys amateurs pres d'une voiture, 1876

(The Racecource: Amateur Jockeys near a Carriage)

Edgar Degas

L Absinthe

Degas liked to go "slumming" and this activity was the source of inspiration for many of his paintings and sketches. This concern with average people, and with depicting Paris as it was, is a trademark of Impressionism. In this case also notice the placement of the table in the foreground. The viewer is "seated" at the table, that, and the placement of the characters in the right hand corner increase the feeling that we are "in the scene" but as observers. The title also tells you that these people are here to drink and forget, not to celebrate.

Edgar Degas

Madame Jeantaud au miroir, 1875

Edouard Manet

La lecture, 1865-1873

Never take a Manet painting for face value, what else is he trying to say? He is fond of trying to bring the viewer into the meaning by having the main character stare directly at them. In this case, what is the topic of the lecture? who is the teacher? does the subject look scared or bored? What about his hand of the back of the couch? The contrast between the fluffy white opulance and the harsh dark corner? Hmm?

Claude Monet

Les dindons, 1877

The Turkeys was created for an Impressionist exhibition as part of a series that attempted to show potential purchasers that art could also simply be decorative and could complement their decor. If I remember correctly, one room in the gallery was mocked up as a living room and paintings placed as they would be in a house.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Pont du chemin de fer a Chatou, 1881

Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Bal du Moulin de la Galette

Some critics have called the one of the quintessential Impressionist paintings and the photo does not do it justice (in addition to being a little blurry). It is an informal, happy picture of Parisians at leisure. The quality of light is etherial.

Claude Monet

Train dans la campagne, 1870 (Train in the Countryside)

See a train theme here? Communter, or suburbian trains were a new phenomenon, allowing Parisians to vist the country side with ease. This access and the roll of the trains in society and the landscape was the subject of many Impressionist paintings, most notibly Monet.

Claude Monet

Le pont d' Argenteuil, , 1874 (Bridge at Argenteuil)

Argenteuil (Ar-gen-toy?) was one of the small towns outside of Paris that benefitted from being accessable by train. Several Impressionists spent summers here painting mainly water and boating scenes.

Claude Monet

Les dechargeurs de charbon, 1875

To me, in person, it looks as if the waorkers were painted afterwards. Despite the Impressionists tendancy towards abstraction, I find these workers, who are not more than a black sillouette, to be rather atypical and kind of spooky.

Claude Monet

La rue Montorgueil, fete du 30 juin 1878,

France got it's butt kicked by Prussia in 1871? and the French flag was outlawed for awhile. This helps to partially explain the enthusiasm showed by Monet upon it's reappearance.

Claude Monet

La gare Saint-Lazare, 1877

Saint Lazare was the new station in the Northeast part of Paris that served the train lines running to the suburbs.

Claude Monet

La cathedrale de Rouen, Le portail et la tour Stain-Romain, effect du matin, 1893

Claude Monet

Meules, fin de l'ete, 1891

Relatively late in his career Monet created a series of painting of haystacks (known as the "Wheatstack" series) shown at different times of the day and during different seasons. Reportedly Degas thought it was a marketing joke until he saw them all together. The largest collection (5?) is in the Art Insitute of Chicago

Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Juenes filles au paino , 1892 (Girls at the Piano)

Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Dance at Bougival

Vincent VanGogh

The Afternoon Siesta

Vincent van Gogh

La Salle de danse a Arles, 1888

Notice the influence of Japanese woodblock art on Van Gogh. The scene is reduced by using two dimensional shapes of color.

Henri Fatin-Latour

The Studio at Batignolles: Otto Schoelderer, Manet, Renoir, Zacharie Astruc, Zola, Edmond Maitre, Bazille and Monet, 1870


"The Star" or "The Ballarina"

Not a great photo, but there is a collection of Degas pastel paintings that are housed under low lighting conditions as to not contribute to the deterioration of the paint. Many of these are dancing and bathing scenes.

Pierre-August Renoir

Juene fille au chapeau de paille, 1907-1908

Claude Monet

Waterlilies & Bridge, 1899

Claude Monet

Le Bassin aux nympheas, harmonie verte, , 1900 (Waterlilies Harmony in Green)

Claude Monet,

Londres, le Parlement touee de soleil dans le brouillard, 1904

Paul Cezanne,

Une modere Olympia, 1873 (see Manets Olympia)

Theo Van Rysselberghe

L'homme a la barre, 1892

These two are arguably more important in the history of art, than they are as works of art... eh, I will try and find the painters name, but he was a student of an Impressionist, and was instructed (possibly for the first time in recorded history) to just go out as an exercise and paint light as blocks of colors, not to paint objects.
The view across the Seine from inside the D'Orsay... Sacre Coeur in the distance.
Paul Darde

Eternelle douleur, ,1913

Thomas Eaakins

Clara, 1900

The D'Orsay also had a wonderful collection of "Gaudi"-esque, Art Deco furniture. Just wonderful.


Portrait of Degas.
Eduard Manet


There he goes again... why is this such a big deal... read.

Calude Monet

Women in the Garden, 1867

Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Boy with a Cat, 1868

The D'Orsay also has a fairly large collection of sculpture, most of which ison display in the more open areas of the old train station.
Cross section of the Paris Opera building.
These are a couple paintings from one of the Impressionists leading contemporaries. Jean Ingres? (I think) This kind of classical painting is what the Impressionists were rebelling against. IMG_6360.JPGIMG_6347.JPG