2016 POWER 7A. THE RAYNES REPORT POWER Issue 2016 - Musee D'Orsay, Paris JPG




Photography and Text By Mark Raynes Roberts


Musee D’Orsay, Paris – “Station of Impressions




Situated on the left bank of the River Seine and a short walk through the beautiful Jardin des Tuileries and across the Pont Royal, lies the Musée D’Orsay, which houses the world’s largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces, by such artists as Cézanne, Gauguin, Manet, Monet, Renoir, Seurat and Van Gogh.


When visiting Paris it is one of my favorite places to visit, not only for the incredible art, but also to view the magnificent Beaux-Arts architecture of the former Gare D’Orsay train station, which was built between 1898 and 1900.  This unique backdrop provides many galleries with natural light, which cascades down from the skylights in the main viewing hall.


In 1970 the museum had been slated for demolition, but thanks to the vision of Jacques Duhamel, the Minister of Cultural Affairs, the building was saved at the last minute.  A design competition in 1981 resulted in Italian architect, Gae Aulenti, winning the commission to provide the interior design of the museum, which opened its doors officially in 1986 to international acclaim.


After a morning viewing many of the most famous impressionistic paintings, there is no reason to leave the museum.  One of the highlights for me is enjoying a delicious lunch in the former restaurant of the Hôtel d’Orsay, which is located on the first floor of the museum, and harkening back to how it must have looked when it opened in 1900.  The dazzling chandeliers and the painted and gilded ceilings of the dining room, which are listed as an historic monument, sets off the contemporary furnishings.  If you have a moment after lunch, it is worth wandering through some of the large Beaux-Arts styled staterooms, (located on the 1st floor), where the decorative rooms echo the voices from past gala’s.


The Musée D’Orsay also boasts one of the finest sculpture collections from the 19th century, with works by such sculptors as Barrias, Carpeaux, Degas, Pompon, Rodin and Valgren among others.  Although the Musée d’Orsay has recently renovated many of its rooms, and is about to continue its ambitious modernization program, the grand central aisle on the ground floor will remain the same.  Its proportions and the light that shines through the glass roof of this former station make it the ideal space for exhibiting sculpture.

If you plan a visit to Paris this summer, you will also be greeted by a new edition as you enter the museum: a small-scale model of the Statue of Liberty by the French sculptor Auguste Bartholdi. (1834-1904) The presence of this world-famous sculpture will soon become one of the most powerful images of the Musée d’Orsay, both as one of the most important art works of the 19th century and for its universal significance.



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