Main Hall of the Musée d'Orsay
|Location||Rue de Lille 75343 Paris, France|
|Type||Art museum, Design/Textile Museum, Historic site|
|Visitors||3.0 million (2009)|
|Public transit access||Solférino |
The Musée d'Orsay (French pronunciation: [myze dɔʁsɛ]) is a museum in Paris, France, on the Left Bank of the Seine. It is housed in the former Gare d'Orsay, a Beaux-Arts railway station built between 1898 and 1900. The museum holds mainly French art dating from 1848 to 1914, including paintings, sculptures, furniture, and photography. It houses the largest collection of impressionist and post-Impressionist masterpieces in the world, by painters including Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, Seurat, Sisley, Gauguin, and Van Gogh. Many of these works were held at the Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume prior to the museum's opening in 1986. It is one of the largest art museums in Europe. Musée d'Orsay had 3.177 million visitors in 2017.
The museum building was originally a railway station, Gare d'Orsay, constructed for the Chemin de Fer de Paris à Orléans and finished in time for the 1900 Exposition Universelle to the design of three architects: Lucien Magne, Émile Bénard and Victor Laloux. It was the terminus for the railways of southwestern France until 1939.
By 1939 the station's short platforms had become unsuitable for the longer trains that had come to be used for mainline services. After 1939 it was used for suburban services and part of it became a mailing centre during World War II. It was then used as a set for several films, such as Kafka's The Trial adapted by Orson Welles, and as a haven for the Renaud–Barrault Theatre Company and for auctioneers, while the Hôtel Drouot was being rebuilt.
In 1970, permission was granted to demolish the station but Jacques Duhamel, Minister for Cultural Affairs, ruled against plans to build a new hotel in its stead. The station was put on the supplementary list of Historic Monuments and finally listed in 1978. The suggestion to turn the station into a museum came from the Directorate of the Museum of France. The idea was to build a museum that would bridge the gap between the Louvre and the National Museum of Modern Art at the Georges Pompidou Centre. The plan was accepted by Georges Pompidou and a study was commissioned in 1974. In 1978, a competition was organized to design the new museum. ACT Architecture, a team of three young architects (Pierre Colboc, Renaud Bardon and Jean-Paul Philippon), were awarded the contract which involved creating 20,000 square metres (220,000 sq ft) of new floorspace on four floors. The construction work was carried out by Bouygues. In 1981, the Italian architect Gae Aulenti was chosen to design the interior including the internal arrangement, decoration, furniture and fittings of the museum. Finally in July 1986, the museum was ready to receive its exhibits. It took 6 months to install the 2000 or so paintings, 600 sculptures and other works. The museum officially opened in December 1986 by then-president François Mitterrand.
The square next to the museum displays six bronze allegorical sculptural groups in a row, originally produced for the Exposition Universelle:
- South America by Aimé Millet
- Asia by Alexandre Falguière
- Oceania by Mathurin Moreau
- Europe by Alexandre Schoenewerk
- North America by Ernest-Eugène Hiolle
- Africa by Eugène Delaplanche
Paintings: major painters and works represented
- Frédéric Bazille – 6 paintings including The Family Reunion, The Improvised Field Hospital, The Pink Dress, Studio in Rue de La Condamine
- Cecilia Beaux – Sita and Sarita (Jeune Fille au Chat)
- Rosa Bonheur - Ploughing in the Nivernais
- Pierre Bonnard – 60 paintings including The Chequered Blouse
- Eugène Boudin – 33 paintings including Trouville Beach
- William-Adolphe Bouguereau – 12 paintings including The Birth of Venus, La Danse, Dante and Virgil
- Louise Catherine Breslau - 4 paintings including Portrait of Henry Davison
- Alexandre Cabanel – The Birth of Venus, The Death of Francesca da Rimini and Paolo Malatesta
- Gustave Caillebotte – 7 paintings including The Floor Scrapers, Vue de toits (Effet de neige)
- Eugène Carrière – 86 paintings including The Painting Family, The Sick Child, Intimacy
- Mary Cassatt – 1 painting
- Paul Cézanne – 56 paintings including Apples and Oranges, The Card Players, Portrait of Gustave Geffroy
- Théodore Chassériau – 5 paintings (the main collection of his paintings is in the Louvre)
- Pierre Puvis de Chavannes – Young Girls by the Seaside, The Young Mother also known as Charity, View on the Château de Versailles and the Orangerie
- Gustave Courbet – 48 paintings including The Artist's Studio, A Burial at Ornans, Young Man Sitting, L'Origine du monde, Le ruisseau noir, Still-Life with Fruit, The Wave, The Wounded Man
- Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot – 32 paintings (the main collection of his paintings is in the Louvre) including A Morning. The Dance of the Nymphs
- Henri-Edmond Cross – 10 paintings including The Cypresses in Cagnes
- Charles-François Daubigny - The Harvest
- Honoré Daumier – 8 paintings including The Laundress
- Edgar Degas – 43 works including paintings such as The Parade, also known as Race Horses in front of the Tribunes, The Bellelli Family, The Tub, Portrait of Édouard Manet, Portraits, At the Stock Exchange, L'Absinthe, and pastels like Café-Concert at Les Ambassadeurs and Les Choristes
- Eugène Delacroix – 5 paintings (the main collection of his paintings is in the Louvre)
- Maurice Denis – Portrait of the Artist Aged Eighteen, Princess Maleine's Minuet or Marthe Playing the Piano, The Green Trees or Beech Trees in Kerduel, October Night (panel for the decoration of a girl's room), Homage to Cézanne
- André Derain – Charing Cross Bridge, also known as Westminster Bridge
- Édouard Detaille – The Dream
- Albert Edelfelt - Pasteur's portrait by Edelfelt
- Henri Fantin-Latour - Around the Piano, A Studio at Les Batignolles
- Paul Gauguin – 24 paintings including Arearea, Tahitian Women on the Beach
- Jean-Léon Gérôme – Portrait of the Baroness Nathaniel de Rothschild, Reception of Condé in Versailles, La Comtesse de Keller, The Cock Fight, Jerusalem
- Vincent van Gogh – 24 paintings including L'Arlésienne, Bedroom in Arles, Self Portrait, portrait of his friend Eugène Boch, The Siesta, The Church at Auvers, View from the Chevet, The Italian Woman, Starry Night Over the Rhone, Portrait of Dr. Gachet, Doctor Gachet's Garden in Auvers, Imperial Fritillaries in a Copper Vase, Saint-Paul Asylum, Saint-Rémy, Self Portrait
- Armand Guillaumin – 44 paintings
- Ferdinand Hodler – Der Holzfäller (The Woodcutter)
- Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres – 4 paintings (the main collection of his paintings is in the Louvre) including The Source
- Eugène Jansson – Proletarian Lodgings
- Johan Barthold Jongkind – 9 paintings
- Gustav Klimt – 1 painting
- Maximilien Luce - The Quai Saint-Michel and Notre-Dame
- Édouard Manet – 34 paintings including Olympia, The Balcony, Berthe Morisot With a Bouquet of Violets, The Luncheon on the Grass, The Fifer, The Reading
- Henri Matisse - Luxe, Calme et Volupté
- Jean-François Millet – 27 paintings including The Angelus, Spring, The Gleaners
- Piet Mondrian – 2 paintings
- Claude Monet – 86 paintings (another main collection of his paintings is in the Musée Marmottan Monet) including The Saint-Lazare Station, The Rue Montorgueil in Paris. Celebration of 30 June 1878, Wind Effect, Series of The Poplars, Rouen Cathedral. Harmony in Blue, Blue Water Lilies, Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe, Haystacks, The Magpie, Women in the Garden
- Gustave Moreau – 8 paintings including L'Apparition
- Berthe Morisot – 9 paintings
- Henri-Paul Motte - The Fiancée of Belus
- Edvard Munch – 1 painting
- Henri Ottmann - The Luxembourg Station in Brussels
- Camille Pissarro – 46 paintings including White Frost
- Odilon Redon – 106 paintings including Caliban
- Pierre-Auguste Renoir – 81 paintings including Bal au moulin de la Galette, Montmartre, The Bathers, Dance in the City, Dance in the Country, Frédéric Bazille at his Easel, Girls at the Piano, The Swing (Pierre-Auguste Renoir)
- Henri Rousseau – 3 paintings
- Théo van Rysselberghe – 6 paintings
- Paul Sérusier – The Talisman, the Aven River at the Bois d'Amour
- Georges Seurat – 19 paintings including The Circus
- Paul Signac – 16 paintings including Women at the Well
- Alfred Sisley – 46 paintings including Inondation at Port-Marly'
- Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec – 18 paintings including La Toilette
- Félix Vallotton – Misia at Her Dressing Table
- Édouard Vuillard – 70 paintings
- James McNeill Whistler – 3 paintings including Arrangement in Grey and Black: The Artist's Mother, also known as Whistler's Mother
Major sculptors represented in the collection include Alfred Barye, François Rude, Jules Cavelier, Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, Émile-Coriolan Guillemin, Auguste Rodin, Paul Gauguin, Camille Claudel, Sarah Bernhardt and Honoré Daumier.
It also holds collections of:
- architecture and decorative arts
Selected collection highlights
Eugène Delacroix, The Lion Hunt, c. 1854
Eugène Boudin, Bathers on the Beach at Trouville, 1869
Paul Sérusier, The Talisman/Le Talisman, 1888
Georges Lacombe, L'Existence, 1894–96
Albert Lebourg, Paris, l'écluse de la Monnaie. Soleil d'hiver
József Rippl-Rónai, Female with Flower, 1891
Louise Catherine Breslau, Portrait of Henry Davison, 1880.
The Directors have been:
- Françoise Cachin: 1986–1994
- Henri Loyrette: 1994–2001
- Serge Lemoine: 2001–2008
- Guy Cogeval: March 2008–present
- List of museums in Paris
- Gare d'Orsay The former railway station
- Musée d'Orsay (Paris RER) The RER station now serving the museum.
- "Vincent and the Doctor" A 2010 episode of Doctor Who featuring three visits to the museum, and Vincent seeing his own paintings.
- The works of Paul Dubois- French sculptor
- "Musée d'Orsay: About". ARTINFO. 2008. Retrieved 30 July 2008.
- "Exhibition and museum attendance figures 2009" (PDF). London: The Art Newspaper. April 2010. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
- "Paris facts". Paris Digest. 2018. Retrieved 16 September 2018.
- "Bouygues website: Musée d'Orsay". Bouygues.com. Archived from the original on 5 December 2008. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
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