The impressionist collection

How to understand it!

A museum in a railway station! That railway station - the Gare d’Orsay - houses the finest collection of Impressionist painters in the world. Victor Laloux, the talented architect who designed it for the Paris Universal Exhibition in 1900, refurbished it in 1986 and turned it into a showcase for works of art from the second half of the 19th century.

The Impressionists are not so easy to get to know, you need to understand them first. Why did it take so long for Manet, Monet, Renoir, Degas, Pissarro, Berthe Morisot, Sisley, Cézanne, Caille-botte... to be appreciated by the public, when today they dazzle the entire world? The answer can be found on the ground floor of the museum, where you can wander through the so-called "academic" canvases, those accepted by the all-powerful Académie des Beaux Arts: Ingres, Bouguereau, Gérôme, Cabanel... These were considered the benchmarks of "good taste". On our way upstairs, we admire the canvases of these Impressionists who revolutionised painting through their style and subject matter. Religious painting and mythology thus give way to modern life: the
cabarets of Montmartre, Haussmann-style Paris, the countryside of the Ile de France, the Normandy seaside... the radiance of colour, the play of light, scenes of everyday life, sensations of the moment and capturing the present.

By ANNICK DOUTRIAUX - Lecturer at national museums and member of ICOM

© Musée d’Orsay - Gustave Caillebotte -"La partie de bateau" -Vers 1877-1878- Huile sur toile