Musée D’Orsay

Art Galleries on line. I thought that’s how I need to spend the afternoon. Having been kept at home and unable to visit exhibitions it was time to venture out, or more correctly in. So looking round to see who was doing what online I was very impressed and then, all of a sudden, found myself in New York and finally settled in Paris.

The Musèe D’Orsay is probably one of the finest museums you are likely to encounter. Packed into a former railway station is probably the largest and most exclusive collections of 19th century French art it is possible to find. The online site is really good offering a fine view of its amazing collection in thumbnails and a street view tour of some of the galleries.

Musée D’Orsay, Paris. Beaux Artes Railway Station opened in 1900, opened as art gallery in 1986, visited online 25th May 2020 online.

What are your favourite three paintings? I found myself asking the question and then listing a dozen to myself. Anyway I picked three and suddenly I realised there was a theme to my choice. 

Paris coronavirus impressionist post impressionist Aix en provence
Paul Cezanne, Mont Sainte- Victoire, 1895,oil on canvas, 73cm x 92 cm, Musée D’Orsay, Paris

My first choice is Paul Cezanne. To me the greatest ever and still wallpaper on my iPad. I have chosen this view of Mont Saint Victoire to remind myself that we will probably not be going to France this year. Two years ago we visited the amazing Aix en Provence and I sat where Cézanne sat sketching the mountain. Cezanne is in my collection as he challenged the western Brunelleschian perspective idea, arguing that with two eyes and time we should consider perspective from multiple angles. This innovation paved the way for Braques and Picasso and cubism.

Paris, coronavirus, modern art
Gustave Courbet, Burial at Ornans, 1849-50, oil on canvas, 315cm x 660cm, Musée D’Orsay, Paris.

Gustave Courbet painted The Burial at Ornans the year after the great 1848 revolution. It is impossible to get through a course of study on Art History without coming across Courbet. There are probably more words written about him than any other modern artist, even Van Gogh. The painting was rejected By the salon and Courbet was vilified as an artist. Why “it is ugly and full of ugly people” was the cry. But this is the painting that was seen to break the grip of the academy – a large scale painting that was not historical or mythological- how dare he!

Paris, coronavirus, Gauguin, nubis
Paul Sérusier, The Talisman, 1888, oil on canvas, 210cm x 270cm, Musée D’Orsay, Paris

And finally The Talisman (1888) by Paul Sérusier. The painting would become the talisman of the Nubis  artists, those that would break away from the impressionists. Gauguin had told Sérusier : “How do you see these trees? They are yellow. So, put in yellow; this shadow, rather blue, paint it with pure ultramarine; these red leaves? Put in vermilion”. Paint what you see – not what you think you see!

No Van Gogh’s, no Monets and no Renoir’s in my top three! Perhaps next time! Enjoy

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Ted Carroll says:

    thanks – Claire likes the Serusier -. we look forward to the next exhibition tour !


  2. Thank you for sharing this beautiful post.
    I remember the first time I went there, when it was used as a theatre for the Renaud–Barrault Company.


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