Paris museums: Impressionism in Private

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Claude Monet, La Plage à Trouville, 1870 © Musée Marmottan Monet

Claude Monet, La Plage à Trouville, 1870 © Musée Marmottan Monet

NOTE: This show closes this weekend. Get out and see it before its too late!

Few artists are more loved than the Impressionists, whose works appear in several Paris museums: the Musée d’Orsay, Musée de l’Orangerie and the Musée Marmottan-Monet. This summer those fun-loving, fashion-conscious artists are stars – thanks to the Marmottan-Monet show Impressionists in Private. Put together in honor of the museum’s 80th birthday, it includes one hundred very special works.

Whether you’re a longtime fan or want to learn about the movement, you won’t find a better way to meet the Impressionists. All this art was recruited from private collectors, many of them descended from families who knew the artists. So it’s a chance to swoon over some genuine rarities, such as Manet’s first version of A Bar at the Folies Bergere (shown on home page slideshow). Plus there are numerous delights and surprises. The huge sunflowers by Caillebotte could almost challenge those by Van Gogh. Or there’s a gorgeous avenue of poplar trees by Monet – a symphony in some amazingly brilliant blues.

Berthe Morisot, Le Piano, circa 1888, private collection DR

Berthe Morisot, Le Piano, circa 1888, private collection DR

Many of these paintings are tender portraits of lovers or children; others offer the sun-kissed outdoor scenes Impressionist fans adore. Whether you prefer charming women or pretty flowers, you’ll be in for a true summer treat.

The museum itself is also stunning. Originally it was a Duke’s hunting lodge and it sits on the edge of Haussman’s Ranelagh Garden. During the Belle Epoque, it was enlarged and personalised by a wealthy art enthusiast. Its permanent collection includes stunning furnishings (some owned by Napoleon) in a gilded setting. But even the lavish period façade is deceptive. In fact, the museum’s lower level holds a specially-built bunker. It houses more of Claude Monet’s work than anywhere else in the world.

Impression Sunrise, C. Monet 1872

Impression Sunrise, C. Monet 1872

The star attraction has to be Monet’s Impression, Sunrise – the painting from which Impressionism took its name. But equally seductive are the painter’s legendary gardens or those ethereal water lilies from Giverny. Upstairs, the Marmottan has even more treasures. Don’t miss their special collection by female Impressionist Berthe Morisot.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Enfant assis en robe bleue (Portrait d’Edmond Renoir, Jr.), 1889, Nahmad Collection, Switzerland DR

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Enfant assis en robe bleue (Portrait d’Edmond Renoir, Jr.), 1889, Nahmad Collection, Switzerland DR

The work from Impressionists in Private is rarely, if ever, shown in public. These are personal treasures that, after the show, go back into hiding. This makes it a blockbuster but also a don’t-miss opportunity. So: make absolutely sure you book ahead; then, show up early – and prepare to feast your eyes.

Impressionists in Private runs through this Sunday 6 July 2014.

Impressionists in Private

Musée Marmottan-Monet 

Ranelagh Garden 

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