The Musée d’Orsay is one of the most renowned and most popular museums in Paris, and for good reason. It is home to many masterpieces, and has an immense collection of Impressionist art, one of my favorite periods to study. On the Left Bank of the Seine the museum stands out regally and proud across the water.
The museum was formerly the Gare d’Orsay, a railway station built between 1898 and 1900. After talk to demolish the station in 1970, a decision was made instead that the museum would house artwork between that of the Louvre (mostly classical) and that of the Centre Pompidou (modern). The museum officially opened in December 1986.
Inside you can see the iconic clock watching over the visitors, and on one of the upper levels (the one with the Impressionists) there is another clock with an extraordinary view of Paris, looking out above the Seine. The original structure of the museum has been well-preserved so that it’s easy to see what it would have been like as a train station .. I can imagine the excitement of all those people that came by train into such a luxurious city, with such anticipation !
The first time I went there I was a little pressed for time, so I only managed to see the Impressionists.
Vincent Van Gogh
Pierre Auguste Renoir (my favorite)
I studied ballet for many many years, so the works of Degas always have a soft spot in my heart. I saw the original of The Little Dancer at the National Gallery of Art in D.C., but this model at the Orsay is equally stunning. I used to read a book inspired by the sculpture, that told the story about the little girl; I used to want to be that little girl ! I also had one of those flip-books, where you turn the pages so fast that the pictures imitate movement .. and this one had The Little Dancer flitting and flying and turning and whirling so beautifully. I love Degas’ paintings as well, the first sort of ‘behind-the-scenes’ voyeuristic images of the world that enchants us all !
The second time I was able to walk around a bit. I was on a mission – tasked with the assignment from my father to see the work of Honoré Daumier, famous for his almost caricatural figures and sculptures.
There is so so much to see at the Orsay and I know I’ve only scratched the surface. One day, when I live in Paris, I will spend my Sunday afternoons there people-watching and enjoying the masterpieces around me, just like the true Parisians.
until then, I can dream