Marmottan Monet Museum, France
The legendary works of the great impressionist artists of Paris, France, makes the Musee d’Orsay – in a beautiful Belle Epoque railway station by the Seine River – the 10th most visited art gallery in the world. Yet, despite the perennial popularity of the impressionists, the Marmottan Monet Museum – home to the world’s largest collection of Monets, along with works by the other great impressionists – remains a hidden gem, often left out of the standard tour of Paris.
The museum is located in a former hunting lodge of the Duke of Valmy, in the mostly-residential 16th arrondissement of Paris. In the late 19th century the lodge became the residence of Paul Marmottan and his son, Jules. Jules Marmottan had a deep interest in the Napoleonic era and expanded his father’s collections of paintings and objects. Marmottan bequeathed his home to the Academie des Beaux-Arts, and in 1934 it was opened as the Marmottan Museum.
Though initially a museum devoted to the First Empire, the character of the museum shifted thanks to two major donations. In 1957 Victorine Donop de Monchy, the daughter of the personal physician of many of the impressionist artists, donated her father’s collection to the museum, including works by Monet, Berthe Morisot, Renoir, Alfred Sisley and others. In 1966, Monet’s son, Michael, donated his collection of his father’s work, thus creating the world’s largest collection of Monet paintings.
Readers with a particular interest in Monet might want to take a look at our previous articles on the great artist: Monet’s Giverny Garden and Monet’s Gift to France.
Major works in the museum:
The museum contains many of Monet’s most important paintings. His Impression, Sunrise gave the impressionist movement its name and is one of the most important early works in the movement. A hazy depiction of the the port of Monet’s hometown, Le Havre, at sunrise, it exemplifies the emerging movement in its emphasis on light and movement instead of realistic depiction.
The museum is home to a number of other Monet masterpieces, including The Cathedral of Rouen (1892); The Houses of Parliament, London (1905); and The Train in the Snow (1875). In particular, the Marmottan Monet houses the last of Monet’s great Waterlilies series, painted from his garden at Giverny and never exhibited during his lifetime.
The Marmottan Monet is also home to the world’s largest collection of paintings by Berthe Morisot. The first prominent woman impressionist, Morisot was closely linked with Monet, Degas, Renoir and Pissarro. At the time, her works sold poorly, meaning that her work is barely represented in galleries around the world – with the exception of the Marmottan Monet, thanks to donations from her descendants.
Morisot was celebrated by her contemporaries for her freedom, use of pastels, and her private, intimate scenes which portrayed the everyday life of women in the 19th century. Eugene Manet on the Isle of Wight, a painting of her husband, the brother of the impressionist Édouard Manet, epitomises her domestic style.
The Marmottan Monet is also home to impressionist and post-impressionist works by Manet, Pissarro, Gauguin, Renoir, and Degas, as well as an extensive collection of medieval illuminations.
Odyssey Traveller makes a visit to the Marmottan Monet museum as part of our in-depth tour of Paris, 21 Days of Paris. Our guided tour is designed to give you an authentic experience of the ‘city of light’, getting beyond the sights of the standard sightseeing tour, Champs Elysees, Eiffel Tower, and the Louvre (or perhaps just the Mona Lisa). This trip to Paris gives you the opportunity to live like a Parisian in a self catered apartment in one of the city’s central arrondissements.
Each tour guide is chosen for their in-depth knowledge of the art, history, and literature of the French capital. On the left bank of the Seine, we explore the Latin Quarter and Saint Germain haunts of the great writers of Paris; later, we make a trip to the artists’ neighbourhood of Montmartre, where we see the legendary Moulin Rouge and sweeping views of the city from Sacre Coeur. We make a walking tour of sights associated with the French Revolution, seeing Place de la Concorde, where Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI were executed, and the Arc de Triomphe, built to commemorate those who fought in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. Delving into the medieval history of Paris, we see Notre Dame, Sainte Chapelle, and the abbey of Saint Germain des Pres.