Paris: Musée de l’Orangerie

If you’re planning a Monet-themed weekend in the French capital, then the Musée de l’Orangerie on the edge of the Jardin des Tuileries is a must.

The small museum is home to eight of the most impressive of Claude Monet’s series of Nymphéas (or Water Lilies) paintings.

The Impressionist artist spent three decades working on a series of 300 or so Nymphéas, which were often painted from memory having been inspired by the water lilies growing in the Japanese garden at his home in Giverny.

Monet offered the eight paintings to the French state as a gesture of peace the day after the Armistice was signed in November 1918.

But it wasn’t until 1927, a year after the artist’s death, that they were finally displayed at the Musée de l’Orangerie.

The eight enormous works of art are almost 2m-tall and are made up of a series of painted panels (below) that sit side-by-side in two specially-designed oval-shaped galleries.

One of the eight Nympheas panels by Claude Monet at the Musee de l'Orangerie in Paris

The paintings are beautiful and evocative, with some more striking than others. Some are painted a very dark blue with barely any water lilies, while others are a much lighter blue and filled with the easily identifiable pink- and cream-coloured flowers.

Along with the eight Nymphéas, the Musée de l’Orangerie is home to the Jean Walter-Paul Guillaume Collection, an impressive collection of Impressionist and early 20th century art.

Many of the works were collected by the French art dealer Paul Guillaume in the 1920s and 1930s.

Following his death at the age of 42, his widow Domenica married the architect Jean Walter and later sold the artworks to the French state in the name of her two husbands.

The extraordinary collection boasts 25 paintings by Renoir, 15 pieces by Cezanne and numerous works by Picasso, Matisse and Modigliani, among others.

One of the paintings by Marie Laurencin at the Musee de l'Orangerie in Paris

I was particularly enamoured by the paintings by Marie Laurencin, whose abstract works were painted in a delicate palette of pinks and greys (above).

I also liked the small model on display that painstakingly recreated the Guillaume family home and was amazed to see a host of priceless paintings casually hanging on the apartment walls as though they’d picked them up in Ikea.

I enjoyed my visit to the Musée de l’Orangerie. It’s a small museum so I spent a little over an hour perusing the collection, and while the famed Nymphéas were the star attraction, the museum’s lesser-known works by the likes of Laurencin and Modigliani were just as noteworthy.

A superb collection and well worth a visit if you’re near the Jardin des Tuileries.

9 thoughts on “Paris: Musée de l’Orangerie

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  1. I also like the paintings by Marie Laurencin and was introduced to the artist and her work during a visit to L’Orangerie a few years ago. Along with the Musee Marmottan, it’s one of my favourite Galleries in Paris

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I put off visiting for years because it’s not really conveniently located but I’m happy that I finally set aside the time to go. The lower floor is a circular room with frame after frame of Monet paintings that I think you’ll like. Enjoy!

        Liked by 1 person

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