The Musée d'Orsay holds the largest collection of Impressionist paintings in the world. Detail of the Bal du Moulin de la Galette by Renoir.
Paris being the city of Impressionism, the Musée d'Orsay is home to the world's biggest Impressionist art collection. Visiting the Musée d'Orsay would be a journey back in time, when the birth of photography and the invention of the tube of paint offered painters new possibilities, while new ideas were completely rejected by the official academy of art.
With Manet bold statement that the artists themselves should decide what is art, and following his call to “instantly paint what you see”; Monet, Renoir, Degas and others would create Impressionism.
That is, for the first time, depict the real world. Looking outside the studio, they painted strolls in the fields, railway stations, ponds and the simple joys of dancing and drinking with friends. Since photography could do details better than painting, but only in black and white, they responded with colour, and painted fleeting moments of happiness with varying aspects of light and visible brushwork. Monet wished “to paint directly from nature, striving to render my impression in the face of the most fugitive effect”.
Yet peaceful Sunday afternoon scenes were greeted with a hail of criticism and calumny. With a private guided tour of the Musée d'Orsay we will discuss why, and admire the resilience of artists in their years of struggle, their friendships and eventual success.
Van Gogh and Gauguin daring use of colour was met with incomprehension. Yet the myth of Van Gogh will be explained, as well as the need for Gauguin to escape to Tahiti. Not only will you understand how revolutionary Impressionism was, but learn to recognise each artist individual style.
This colourful art journey would be a conversation, where we will hear Monet telling us “everyone discusses my art and pretends to understand, as if it were necessary to understand, when it is simply necessary to love”. Renoir “the only way to understand painting is to go and look at it”. Van Gogh “I often think that the night is more alive and more richly coloured than the day”. Gauguin “Colour! What a deep and mysterious language, the language of dreams”.
And be stunned at Cézanne with “the sun is so terrific here that is seems to me as if the objects were silhouetted not only in black and white, but in blue, red, brown and violet”.
From Manet to Monet and Renoir; Cézanne, Vincent Van Gogh and Gauguin, the Musée d'Orsay holds the largest collection of Impressionist masterpieces. Every Thursday it is possible to enjoy them at night for a private tour. Detail of Van Gogh's self-portrait.
The Musée d'Orsay. Photo © Art Journey Paris.
The Musée d'Orsay opens every day except Mondays, from 9.30 am to 6 pm, and opens at night on Thursdays, till 9.30 pm.
Do not hesitate to inquire adding a visit of Giverny gardens and the Orangerie to a Musée d'Orsay private tour. A visit of Orsay can be complemented by a visit of the nearby Musée Rodin. Entrance tickets are extra.
Other museums also open in the evening, like the nearby Louvre, so with an Art Journey Private evening tour of the Louvre, we can travel from Antiquity until Impressionism.
To inquire about a private tour of the Musée d'Orsay, please mention the date of the visit as well as the number of participants, using the form below, thank you.