As a resident of Paris for 6 years I made innumerable trips to the Musée d’Orsay over the years. This former train station turned museum is a treasure to behold, and a crowd-pleaser with tourists as it features an abundance of impressionist artwork. In fact, according to Wikipedia, the Musée d’Orsay holds the largest collection of impressionist and post-Impressionist masterpieces in the world.
While there are innumerable pieces I could list in this article, I’m going to call out a few of my personal favorites to visit while at the Orsay. Hopefully, in enjoying these, any visitor will also discover a few of their own to love.
Works by Gustave Caillebotte
Gustave Caillebotte (1848 – 1894) was an impressionist painter who veered more towards the realist with his work. In depicting scenes of workers and shuttered windows, his pieces also are reminiscent of Jean-François Millet’s The Gleaners, another treasure of the Musée d’Orsay.
Unlike Millet, Caillebotte’s works focused on urban areas, and his pieces are like windows into late 19th century Parisian life for the average person. The mundanity and realism of the pieces makes them perhaps more exciting now, in the 21st century than they were when he painted them.
The Decorative Arts section
The decorative art displays at the Musée d’Orsay are of exceptional quality and should not be missed.
Furniture and rooms from the Art Nouveau period are marvelous to behold.
As it turns out, the collection has continued to grow as individuals can donate items to rather than pay estate taxes.
The Origin of the world by Courbet
Don’t miss this audacious work of art dating from 1866. Straddling the line between art and sheer voyeurism, it caused quite a sensation in its day. While art world today has become accustomed to this piece, it still represents sexuality, voyeurism as well as an homage to the unique abilities of the female body that make it feel continuously relevant.
These are just a couple of small items to see while visiting the Musee d’Orsay. The museum offers so many different things to visit and enjoy – I hope you’ll find many of your own to love!