March 16, 2008

Paris – L’Orangerie

Posted in museums at 2:27 pm by classicalmusic

See L’Orangerie for the Monet Lilies

L’Orangerie is a charming Second Empire styled building at the end of the Tuileries Gardens.  Whenever I visit Paris it is one of my favorite haunts.  If the weather is good, it is a pleasure to stroll through the Gardens themselves and then end up at this small but lovely museum.

Originally built to as a greenhouse for the Tuileries Palace, it was turned into an exhibition gallery in the early 20th century to house the art collection of Walter-Guillaume.  There is an elegant horseshoe wrought iron staircase which takes the visitor to the first floor galleries to the Walter-Guillaume collection of Impressionists.  There are several Soutine tortured portraits and still lifes, a Picasso, and a Modigliani.  There are also some good examples of Renoir, Derain, Matisse, Henri Rousseau and Sisley.

But the highlight of L’Orangerie are the two large oval rooms on the ground floor with a series of paintings by Monet made in his garden at Giverny.  These are eight gigantic panels of Water Lilies, called the Nympheas, presented to the museum in 1927.  It is breathtaking to stand in the center of these rooms and simply turn from one panel to the next to observe the depth of colors and tones.  If you are fortunate to be there all alone, you can really enjoy the lilies without the annoyance of flash cameras (which are forbidden, but tourists use them anyhow).  I go back there every time I can get to Paris.