Musée dOrsay

Musée d’Orsay

Musée d'Orsay
Musée d’Orsay

The Palais d’Orsay

From 1810 to 1838, it was the construction of the Palais d’Orsay. The palace bears the name of a member of the municipal body, before the revolution. This is Charles Boucher d’Orsay. This gentleman undertook the construction of a stone quay. The wharf bore his name, which was then given to the palace. The palace was intended to receive the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but eventually, it was assigned to the Court of Auditors. In May 1871, it is the end of the Commune (in history, the commune is the time of a revolutionary government). The people do not agree with the state, it’s a mini-revolution. There are fires where many buildings are destroyed, including the Palais d’Orsay. It is not rebuilt and remains in ruins for almost thirty years.


The train station

1898 – 1900, it is the construction of the station of Orsay: The railway company Paris – Orleans wants to buy the ground of the old Cour des comptes (or Palais d’Orsay) to build a station there. She will keep the name of Orsay. Victor Laloux, an architect, is chosen for the construction. The station must fit perfectly into its prestigious environment: The Louvre and the Tuileries Garden. The architect adopts a metal structure and the envelope of cut stone.

The train station includes a luxurious 400-room hotel, a restaurant and a large ballroom. It is decorated by painters and sculptors that the architect had chosen himself. The station is open on the occasion of the world exhibition of 1900. For nearly 40 years, the station knows a great activity. It is used for traffic (circulation) of travelers; and the hotel is frequented by passing travelers and Parisians who use its restaurant and banquet hall for luxurious receptions.


The station loses its function

1939, the main railway lines are abandoned because the railways have become too short. The facilities of the Orsay train station (hotels, restaurants) become useless … there are no more long-distance travelers, which is why the hotel becomes useless. During the war, the station of Orsay becomes a place where parcels are sent to the prisoners soldiers; then, at the end of the war it serves to welcome survivors. In May 1958, General De Gaulle gave a press conference in the village hall of the hotel. Subsequently, the buildings of the ORSAY station will only serve to host different events (cinema, theater). Rail traffic no longer exists.


The saved building

In 1961, SNCF decided to put the station building up for sale to avoid its demolition. However, the Minister of Cultural Affairs at the time, Jacques Duhamel, decided to keep the building. The facades and decorations of the old station are listed in the inventory of Historic Monuments in 1973 and the entire station in 1978.


The Museum

In 1977, President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing took up the idea of to install a museum of the nineteenth century in the old station. The museum is intended to receive national collections, scattered in other museums. Shortly after his election in 1981, François Mitterrand confirmed the Orsay project.

From 1983 to 1986, it is the transformation of the building. A complete reorientation of the spaces of the old station is planned. The ground floor of the hotel and the arrival yard are transformed into public reception areas. Three levels of exposure are planned. At the eastern end, there are escalators that allow you to go upstairs. The terraces at the middle level form exhibition spaces. The party hall of the hotel is preserved. We can visit it. The former restaurant of the station is transformed into a public restaurant. “Traces” of the old station are left voluntarily visible. In December 1986, the Musée d’Orsay opened its doors to the public.


The collections

The Musée d’Orsay has, without counting the photographs, about 6,000 works, of which 3,000 are on display. The others are kept in reserves from which they come out, episodically, for exhibitions at the museum or to be lent. Thus, out of 2600 paintings, 1500 are in reserve; out of 1250 sculptures, 500 are in reserve. It is the curators who have chosen the works exhibited permanently.


Thefts In

Recent years in particular, one of the main problems facing a museum is the theft of works of art, which are most often sold by receivers abroad and will enrich private collections.

How to guard against these thefts?

The experts have designed two types of defense. The first consists of a set of electronic anti-theft devices (ultra-sophisticated microwave and ultrasonic detectors); the second is based on what might be called “passive defense”, that is to say all the measures which, in one way or another, can make the objects exposed less vulnerable. For example ? attempts are made to reduce as much as possible the exits (entrances and exits) so that they are more easily controllable by guards or detectors; doors and windows are often shielded, etc. But recent museums are pretty much the only ones that can be equipped this way. Very large budgets should be made available to protect old museums.


Collections were collected that were scattered among several sites, and sometimes unexposed for lack of space. The main background is that of the Luxembourg Museum  ; it is complemented by works preserved in the National Museum of Modern Art , the Jeu de Paume or in various other national museums. Since 1986, the collections of the Musée d’Orsay are enriched by acquisitions (including the works of foreign artists) and donations and dations collectors or artists descendants.

The Musée d’Orsay is the link between the permanent collections of the Louvre Museum and those of the National Museum of Modern Art (Center Pompidou) , with sometimes fluctuating boundaries. The dates of 1848 and 1914 were chosen to mark the beginning and the end of the period concerned, sometimes mainly because of their historical meaning. It can be noted that, from the point of view of art history, the Musée d’Orsay is located overall between Romanticism(exhibited at the Louvre Museum) and Fauvismor Cubism (on which the museum opens National Museum of Modern Art).

Temporary exhibitions are regularly organized in situ to make the works of the reserves known to the public. Outside the walls, prestigious exhibitions – often a retrospective of an artist’s work – are organized by the museum at the Grand Palais National Galleries . Many places in France can supplement or be a prerequisite for a visit to the Orsay museum: Musée de l’Orangerie, the Marmottan-Monet Museum , Musee Rodin, Bourdelle Museum in Paris; Museum of Impressionists and Claude Monet Foundation in Giverny, Museum of Fine Arts in Angers, Museum of Fine Arts in Reims, Fabre Museum in Montpellier, Toulouse-Lautrec museum in Albi, Ganne inn in Barbizon, etc.

The Musée d’Orsay has about 6,000 works (not counting photographs and drawings), about half of which are permanently displayed on three levels, according to various groupings: chronological, thematic, or by collections.

The consecrated painting is present with academicism , the only current supported for a long time by the official authorities. A beginning of emancipation against the academic rules is felt with the school of Barbizon in the landscape painting and with the realism in the description of the society.

Modernity holds pride of place in the collections: the major expression is Impressionism , which takes the painter out of the studio and affirms the primacy of light. With the upheavals of the society which is transformed in depth, the symbolism opposes an ideal and dreamlike world. After the analytic experiences of naturalism , the personality of the artists is more and more recognizable in the works (Post-Impressionism, Pointillism, Nabis, Art Nouveau). Everyone develops their own style, with, in some cases, the announcement of the vanguards of the early twentieth century.


History of collections

The Orsay museum houses the Jeu de Paume collections from the Musée du Luxembourg, those left in the Palais de Tokyo by the Museum of Modern Art, as well as works from the Louvre dating from the second half of the nineteenth century . Today, this ensemble is constantly enriched by new acquisitions, in order to offer the public an ever wider image of the art of the second half of the 19th century, both French and foreign.

While Impressionism for a long time eclipsed the works that preceded or followed it, Orsay had the immense merit of rediscovering history painting and rendering justice to so-called official painters unjustly disqualified as Gérôme or Couture, of to deepen our knowledge of realism, with Courbet, but also Millet , Jules Breton or Bastien-Lepage , to reveal to us the splendours of French and foreign symbolism, from Gustave Moreau to Franz van Stuck , to recall the importance that had for the evolution of art to come the post-impressionism of a Seurat and Nabi movement born of Cezanne and Gauguin.

The new Orsay

Your stay at Hotel Bersolys will allow you to discover the new Orsay and its recently renovated upper floors. A new, more coherent visit itinerary has been designed, ranging from Impressionism to Post-Impressionism, while the Median level is home to the great Nabi decorations and foreign schools of decorative arts. Instead of the usual white color, deep blue and deep red walls were also chosen, to reveal the contrasting values so marked in nineteenth-century painting. The presentation of the paintings, finally, is more airy, the windows less loaded, the works put in perspective: everything is done to sharpen a look that will be prompted to contemplate, compare, analyze.


Major Works:

  • Alexandre Cabanel , Birth of Venus (painting, 1863): a mythological subject illustrated by an official artist very much in favor during the Second Empire. (Cabanel )
  • Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux , Dance (sculpture, 1869): the original group that adorned the facade of Paris Opera, in which the artist manages to translate the sensation of movement. ( Carpeaux )
  • Paul Cézanne , the Card Players (painting, between 1890 and 1895): a sober and balanced post-impressionist painting, belonging to a series of five versions. (Cézanne )
  • Théodore Chassériau , the Tepidarium (painting, 1853): a work with multiple influences, between romanticism, orientalism and historical painting. (Chassériau )
  • Gustave Courbet , A burial at Ornans(painting, 1849-1850): a daily scene in a monumental format, which classified the artist as the leader of the realist. (Courbet )
  • Edgar Degas , Fourteen-year-old Dancer (sculpture, between 1865 and 1881): the extremely realistic sculpture of a painter of everyday life. (Degas )
  • Emile Gallé , Plat d’ornament (faience, 1878): the first steps of a master glassmaker in the field of ceramics. (Gallé )
  • Paul Gauguin , Arearea [jubilations] (painting, 1892): idealized exoticism in a painting considered by the artist as one of his most important. (Gauguin )
  • Édouard Manet , the Lunch on the Grass (painting, 1863): a work whose modernity and subject caused a scandal at the Salon des Refusés. (Manet )
  • Jean-François Millet , the Angelus (painting, 1863): famous throughout the world, a major painting of the representative of French realism. (Millet )
  • Claude Monet , the Cathedral of Rouen. The portal and the Saint-Romain Tower, full sun (painting, 1893): an example of Claude Monet’s work on the play of light and the transfiguration of forms. (Monet )
  • Félix Nadar , Charles Baudelaire in the chair (photograph, 1855): when one of the first photographers made the enigmatic portrait of a poet. (Nadar )
  • Pierre Puvis de Chavannes , the Dream (painting, 1883): a master of decorative art reconnects with the classical tradition by tinging it with symbolism. (Puvis de Chavannes )
  • Auguste Renoir , Bal de la Galette mill (painting, 1876): a very thorough study of open air, a masterpiece of early Impressionism. (Renoir )
  • Henri Rousseau , the Snake Charmer (painting, 1907): exotic landscape, realism and fantasy intermingle in this announcer of some vanguards of the twentieth e s. (Rousseau )
  • Vincent Van Gogh , the Church of Auvers-sur-Oise (painting, 1890): a building and a landscape in motion, the reality transfigured by the vision of the artist. (Van Gogh )
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