Home to numerous impressionist and post-impressionist painters over the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, the Orangerie museum is in the Jardin des Tuileries, just steps from the Louvre museum, next to the Place de la Concorde. You’ll find masterpieces by Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Armedeo Modigliani, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and many other artists of the period.
The Museum is installed in an old orangery, hence the name. Commissioned by Napoleon III, it was built in 1852 to overwinter citrus fruit trees that were displayed in tubs in the Jardin des Tuileries. The building underwent several transformations in the 20th century. It functioned as a warehouse, military accommodation and as a performance centre for sports and musicals. Eventually it came under the control of the Beaux Arts administration. They turned it into a museum and the building was expanded to accommodate artworks.
Monet and the Orangerie Museum
Claude Monet had become wealthy and famous by the early 1900. He was also by then obsessed with water lilies which he grew in the pond in his garden at Giverny Normandy. On 12 November 1918, the day after the Armistice, he offered a series of his water lily paintings to the state, as a symbol of peace. He began them in 1914, then 73 years old. His friend, George Clemenceau, then President of France was delighted with the offer. The Orangerie Museum was chosen to showcase them. Monet even created more paintings specifically to fit the specially constructed, curving walls of the building. It took almost a decade for the paintings to be completed and shown, with Monet involved in the decoration of the rooms in which his work was hung. He died, holding Clemenceau’s hand, just a few months before the paintings were installed.
The paintings are extraordinary, immersive and a truly monumental achievement.
Art and exhibitions
Over the years the Orangerie has grown its collection and now contains a permanent exhibition: Les Arts à Paris. There are twelve works by Picasso, ten by Matisse and ten by Utrillo. And there are many more incredible artworks of the 19th and 20th centuries.
The museum holds regular temporary exhibitions throughout the year as well as music and dance performances, workshops and tours. There’s also a gift shop/book shop and modern café.
Entry is free on the first Sunday of the month.
Tickets, opening times and details: musee-orangerie.fr