Musée d'Orsay - art and the artists
The museum is dedicated to artwork in the period 1848 to 1914 and is, in part, a temple to Impressionism. Essentially it starts where the Louvre leaves off. The artwork housed in the museum came from three different collections.
There's an immense range of work and it takes a long time to get round it all. Last month, I stayed the whole day in the museum until it closed. For the very first time I got round nearly all the paintings and saw many I'd never seen before. This is partly because of the way in which the museum is laid out. You can think you've been through all the rooms when in fact you've left out a huge chunk.
It's probably the best museum for seeing collections of paintings by the various artists associated with Impressionism anywhere in the world.
- an index of artists
- a list of paintings
- a list of sculpture
- a list of decorative arts
- a list of photographic works
- a list of graphic works and drawings (it's fascinating waht they call graphic works and what they call paintings
- a list of architectuural works
Freehand drawingThe museum allows photography of the exhibits (Yay!) - so long as flash is not used.
Freehand pencil sketches, not exceeding 30 x 60 cm, are allowed in the museum. However, for groups, previous authorisation must be requested when the booking is made.
Copying museum works of art, by professional or amateur copyists, or by art school students, requires an individual authorisation. This is issued to one named person, and for a single work. The request must be submitted at least one month before the required date of entry to the museum. The permission is valid for three months, and may not be extended.
As a result - and because this time I had the time to go round on my own I photographed all the pictures I liked - and all the ones by artists I wanted to know more about - plus their caption labels - and uploaded them all to Flickr. You'll note that some photos are taken at slightly funny angles - this is done largely to avoid glare or reflections.
During museum opening times, works may be photographed or filmed in the permanent exhibition halls for personal or private use, excluding use for groups or for commercial purposes.
The use of flash, incandescent lamps, tripods or other support, is not allowed without an individual authorisation from the museum director.
What I found when I got my photographs home is that you can see so much more - just as you can when visiting a museum in terms of how an artist makes marks with for example a brush. Here, for example of the artist's eye from one of the self-portraits done by Vincent van Gogh. You just can't pick that up from good reproductions in books.
You can see my Flickr set here - makingamark2 - Musee d'Orsay.
I'm making them public as I get them labelled - I'm doing it in batches and I think I'm about a third of the way through (inbetween writing lots of words about nutty planning policies!).
If you like, you can subscribe to this feed and this will enable you to receive periodic updates as I convert works to being public with titles. (I think you choose the frequency - I get mine weekly)
You can also use camcorders. I took mine and this is a video of the Degas bronzes on Flickr.
Musée d'Orsay - the building
The building was originally a railway station the Gare d'Orsay which was built for the Universal Exhibition in 1900. The museum is in this building because the trains got too long for its platforms. It closed in 1937 and was empty for a very long time. Obviously there were other priorities for a period of time. Latterly the outcry over the destruction of Les Halles in 1971 meant that it was saved from demolition threats - and there was a lobby to preserve this landmark building. It opened as a museum in 1986.
- this is the story of the site
- this is the story of the station
- here's how it progressed from being a station to a museum which is a major tourist attraction attarcting over 3 million visitors each year
- the architecture of the interior is something I study every time I visit. It's simple and complex at the same time and I find the facts and figures about the building to be fascinating
Musée d'Orsay - the views
One of the things I really like about the Musée d'Orsay is the way you can get out on to the roof terrace next to the cafe which is at the top of the building. For some reason the door was locked on my last visit. As it was this time until somebody realised that it was actually a very warm day and maybe people would enjoy being outside. So they opened the doors to the terrace - at which point about half the care got up and walked outside!
I did my very first sketch in Paris on that terrace several years ago! It has the most stunning views of Montmatre and Sacre Couer.
Musée d'Orsay - Resources for Art Lovers
I've set up a site to record all the links about the Museum and you can find it here - although it's still early days! Musée d'Orsay - Resources for Art Lovers
The museum also has a range of information sheets:
- What is a museum ? The Musée d'Orsay
- Painters, the Salon, and Critics, 1848-1870
- In the Times of Impressionist Exhibitions (1874-1886)
- After Impressionism, from Van Gogh to Matisse (1886-1906)
- The rise of landscape painting
- The Portrait. Painting and sculpture in France between 1850 and 1900
- Children, Images by Artists And Social Realities
- The rural world seen by artists, 1848-1914
- The Industrial World Represented by 19th-Century Artists
- Paris, a 19th-Century City
- The Opéra by Charles Garnier
- French Sculpture, Daumier, Carpeaux, Rodin...
- Art and Power
- References to Antiquity in Visual Arts (1848-1914)
- The Republic and its Images
- British and American Painters at the Musée d'Orsay