Treasures of the Musee d'Orsay

Overview

All the pleasures of 19th-Century art, from Manet's Luncheon on the Grass to Van Gogh's Bedroom at Arles and Seurat's Circus, are showcased in this handsomely designed volume of works selected by the former director of France's extraordinary and popular museum.

Located in a soaring Parisian train station that has been transformed into a wildly popular museum, the Musee d'Orsay boasts the world's most impressive collection of art created from 1848 to the early years of the ...

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Overview

All the pleasures of 19th-Century art, from Manet's Luncheon on the Grass to Van Gogh's Bedroom at Arles and Seurat's Circus, are showcased in this handsomely designed volume of works selected by the former director of France's extraordinary and popular museum.

Located in a soaring Parisian train station that has been transformed into a wildly popular museum, the Musee d'Orsay boasts the world's most impressive collection of art created from 1848 to the early years of the twentieth century. Since its opening in December 1986, some thirty million visitors have marveled at both the museum's permanent collections and the exhibitions that it has presented at the nearby Grand Palais.

Every aspect of the museum's collection-oil paintings, sculpture, decorative arts, pastels, drawings and watercolors, architecture, and photography—is well represented here in full-color, generously sized reproductions made from new photographs taken especially for this project. A lively essay by the museum's former director, Françoise Cachin, provides a knowledgeable introduction to the history of the museum and of its far-ranging collections. In addition, concise essays at the start of each chapter illuminate the illustrations that follow.

As Mme. Cachin says in her conclusion: may this book "help the reader preserve vivid memories of the quality and the variety of works seen at this museum. May it especially instill a desire to return again and again in search of new discoveries."

Other Details: 240 full-color illustrations 204 pages 9 x 9" Published 1995

opening of the Orsay, has successfully overseen the completion of the Louvre's spectacular renovation and extension), began thinking together about appropriate uses for this train station. For all of us, deciding what should be chosen or eliminated, what the priorities should be and how the spaces should be organized was a difficult, passionate, often contentious process. What a challenge! On the very spot where trains came and went, at the site of so much commotion, of so many timetables and fleeting instants, were to be presented museum objects—which by their very nature aspire to eternity. In addition, permanent exhibition rooms had to be created without destroying the essence of an architectural structure that was itself a museum piece. Some of its main advantages were the immense glass vault overhead and the glass bays overlooking the Seine, diffusing northern light and, from the top floor, affording a marvelous view of Paris and its river.

Let's put aside the building for a moment and go inside the museum, which has been open to the public since December 1986. The period represented runs from 1848 to approximately 1905 for painting, and until 1914 for the rest. Why this time differential? Because pictorial developments generally preceded those of the other arts, displaying paintings made up to the start of World War I would have meant introducing to the Musee d'Orsay Fauvism, Cubism, and the beginnings of abstract art—basically a large part of the Beaubourg's domain and currently considered as belonging more to the beginning of the twentieth century than to the end of the nineteenth. This may, in fact, be open to debate. In any case, clear administrative boundaries had to be determined: thus, artists born between 1820 and 1870 are presented at the Musee d'Orsay; those born before that are in the Louvre, after that, at the Beaubourg. There are a few exceptions: the entire body of work by Edouard Vuillard, who was active until the 1940s, is at the Orsay, while the entire body of work by Henri Matisse, except for the one Neo-Impressionist painting reproduced here, is exhibited at the Beaubourg, even though he was born in 1869. As for Pierre Bonnard, his work is divided between the two institutions. Similarly, we did not wish to cut artists off from their immediate sources: thus, the tour of the museum begins with a few late works by Camille Corot, Eugène Delacroix, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, François Rude, and Honore Daumier, all of whom belong to the generation presented on the other side of the Seine, at the Louvre.

The dates 1848 and 1905, which in principle mark the beginning and end of the artistic creation shown here, may seem arbitrary boundaries, and a half-century of creation may seem a minor affair. But what a half-century it was! A time of such prodigious wealth and variety that the museum's eighteen thousand square meters of exhibition space barely suffice to contain it.

This mid-century corresponds, historically and culturally, to a moment of transition: it saw the appearance and recognition of Realism in the work of Gustave Courbet, Jean-François Millet, and the Barbizon landscape artists, as well as the first Universal Expositions (London, 1851; and Paris, 1855 and 1867). These world fairs disseminated European art and were a forum first for confrontation and eventually for association between art and industry, helping stimulate developments such as still photography and cinema. During this time, high-quality industrial art also emerged, conceived at first in England by groups of artist-artisans who were soon to be the creators of the Arts and Crafts movement. At the same time, new uses of steel were coming about that would rapidly transform architecture.

Such new tendencies faced increasing resistance from the eclectic, academic tradition, which would later be nicknamed "art pompier." One of the particularities of the Musee d'Orsay is that it conveys these tensions and shows the variety of all these different modes of creation. Thus, the ground floor (the first part of the visit, ranging from 1848 to the 1870s, which more or less corresponds to the Second Empire in France) is divided in two by an alley of sculptures, ending in a sort of square dominated by the greatest French sculptor of the era, Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux. A series of models also evokes Baron Haussmann's new Paris and Charles Garnier's Opera. On the right-hand side of this aisle is displayed work in the classical or academic current, featuring history painting, large decorative panels, and portraits, from Ingres and Delacroix to Pierre Puvis de Chavannes and the young Edgar Degas.

On the left, in opposition to Ingrism and Romanticism, are the social scenes and caricatures sculpted by Daumier, the Realism of the Barbizon landscape painters, and particularly the work of Courbet, whose large canvases, Burial at Ornans and The Studio, mark the beginning of a "new painting" even more than the famous Salon des Refuses of 1863. The hero of modernity in the 1860s, Edouard Manet, is represented opposite his friend Degas, who evolved out of the Ingres tradition but was also connected with the new generation of Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, and Paul Cezanne—all future members of the Impressionist group. Work by these artists constitutes some of the museum's greatest highlights.

The second part of the painting tour takes the visitor behind the towers at the end of the aisle and onto the escalator to the upper gallery, where the glass roof diffuses the same fluctuating daylight that the Impressionists had made their subject. These artists are represented here in all their glory. After the masterpieces of the 1870s, each painter—Manet, Degas, Renoir, Monet, Cezanne—receives a comprehensive display.

Next comes another of the museum's most popular areas: beautiful series by Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, and the Pont-Aven school; Georges Seurat and the Neo-Impressionists; Odilon Redon and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. After that section the visitor must go down to the middle floor to reach the exhibition spaces that open onto terraces filled with statues, ending in an esplanade devoted to the second great sculptor presented at the Musee d'Orsay: Auguste Rodin, with his Gates of Hell and Balzac.

To the left of the esplanade is a group of paintings that embodies the official and fashionable taste of the Third Republic, which preferred Leon Bonnat and William Bouguereau to Manet, and Ernest Meissonnier and Giovanni Boldini to Degas. Here we find famous portraits—from Albert Edelfelt's Pasteur to Jacques-Emile Blanche's Proust, as well as images that have filled the history books of several generations of young French students, such as Edouard Detaille's Dream and Jean-Paul Laurens's Excommunication of Robert the Pious in 998. Not far from here are works by foreign artists, often wisely acquired by the State at the time they were made. These include paintings by Winslow Homer, the Italian Pelizza di Volpedo, and the Russian Nikolai Nikolaievitch Gay. This section has been strengthened by additions made since the opening of the museum, enabling us to present artists such as Edward Burne-Jones (English), George Hendrik Breitner (Dutch), Ferdinand Hodler (Swiss), Gustav Klimt (Austrian), Edvard Munch (Norwegian), and Valentine Serov (Russian).

Finally, after the rooms devoted to decoration and to French and international Art Nouveau, in which decorative works by Redon and Bonnard are exhibited, the painting tour ends with works from the turn and early part of the twentieth century, including the Nabis—Maurice Denis, Felix Vallotton, Vuillard, and Bonnard—whom we observe here in their breathtaking maturity. It is Bonnard whose work fills the final room of the circuit, recently enriched by gifts.

While on this topic, let us not forget that the Musee d'Orsay would not exist without the donations and bequests that have been made since the end of the last century and that constitute the majority of the paintings on view here today. Let us briefly retrace these successive acts of generosity. First, that by the painter Gustave Caillebotte, whose bequest of 1896 put a great number of works by his Impressionist friends into the museums; by the Etienne Moreau-Nelatons, collectors who gave Manet's Luncheon on the Grass and an excellent selection of Impressionist paintings (1906); by Isaac de Camondo, who, in particular, brought Cezanne into the Louvre and gave Manet's Balcony as well as a superb series of works by Degas (1911). Let us also recall the bequests of Chauchard (1909), who gave the state Millet's famous Angelus and an exceptional collection of landscape works from the Barbizon School. We should mention particularly the postwar donations by Dr. Paul Gachet and by his son (seven Cezannes and as many van Goghs) (1949-54), by Eduardo Mollard (1961) and by Max and Rosy Kaganovitch (1973), not to mention Auguste Pellerin's bequest of several works by Cezanne, followed by his family's donation of that artist's Woman with a Coffee Pot (1956). Masterpieces have also been left to us by Jacques Doucet (1929) and John Quinn (1927): Henri Rousseau's Snake Charmer and Seurat's Circus, respectively.

The artists' descendants, too, have allowed works by Frederic Bazille, Courbet, Degas, Emile Galle, Monet, Camille Pissarro, Redon, Renoir, Paul Serusier, Paul Signac, Toulouse-Lautrec, and others to be displayed or better represented. The same generosity has been evident, in the area of portraiture, among the models and their families: this is the source, for example, of Manet's Zola, of Franz-Xaver Winterhalter's Madame Barbe de Rimsky-Korsakov, of Jules-Elie Delaunay's Madame Georges Bizet, of van Gogh's Dr. Paul Gachet, of Serov's Mme. Lvov, of Louis Welden Hawkins's Severine, and of Bonnard's Portrait of the Bernheim Brothers—to cite only those that are reproduced here.

Ever since the principle of dation—using works of art for the payment of inheritance taxes—was instituted in France in 1968, numerous masterpieces have thus been acquired: works by Manet (The Escape of Rochefort), Monet (Luncheon on the Grass and Rue Montorgueil, Paris: Festival of June 30, 1878), Renoir (Dance in the City), Bonnard (The Seasons, The Loge, The Bourgeois Afternoon), Redon (Decorative Panels), and Matisse (Luxe, calme et volupte).

We should perhaps note where all the works now exhibited at the Musee d'Orsay were originally housed. To simplify matters: whatever is prior to Impressionism had been at the Louvre, either exhibited (Courbet, for example) or in storage (many academic works). Works by Manet, the Impressionists, and the immediate Post-Impressionists (van Gogh, Gauguin, Seurat) had been exhibited at the Jeu de Paume. Painting from after this period—the Nabis, Symbolists, foreign schools, and so on—had been on display or in storage at the Musee National d'Art Moderne before being transferred to the Beaubourg. Just about everything else now on view at the Musee d'Orsay was not being displayed anywhere. Many of the sculptures were in storage or otherwise inaccessible at the Louvre, except those by Carpeaux and Rodin (the Rodin museum has generously entrusted us with certain of its pieces). As with painting, we have endeavored to show the variety of sculpture from the Second Empire to the end of the century: from Auguste Preult's and Jean-Paul Aube's Romanticism, to Daumier's and then Jules Dalou's Realism and to the various forms of the classicist revival, from Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse in mid-century to Ariste Maillol and Emile-Antoine Bourdelle at the turn of this century. We go from the eclectic style of classical practitioners such as Charles Cordier and Louis-Ernest Barrias—who played with materials by mixing marble, semiprecious stones, and bronze—to the technical innovations or return to primitivism by painter-sculptors such as Degas and Gauguin.

Since the museum's mandate is to present a multidisciplinary view of this half-century, we have had to attempt to fill in entire areas of creation that had previously been absent from the national collections. Indeed, aside from a few loans from the Musee des Arts Decoratifs, everything now on display at the Musee d'Orsay in the area of furnishings, objets d'art, architecture, and photography has been acquired over the last fifteen years.

The furniture and objets d'art are divided into two main sections. On the ground floor, to the right of the painting circuit, are the rooms devoted to the Second Empire—its wallpapers, the wealth of its gold and cabinet work, the technical refinement of its everyday objects, and several masterpieces of the eclectic neo-Greek and neo-Gothic styles. With few exceptions, we have avoided mixing disciplines or combining paintings, sculptures, and objects from the same period in one room; there is no "period room" at the Musee d'Orsay, no reconstructed atmosphere. On first glance when entering the museum, the sight of all the sculptures in perspective under the great glass vault may evoke not a specific interior but the style of the Salon exhibitions at the nineteenth-century Expositions Universelles. Painting, here as in the Salons, unfolds in separate galleries, but the whole does not seek to imitate a plush, hothouse effect; on the contrary, the space is defined by the strong contemporary architecture of Gae Aulenti, who emphasized the transparent, metallic structure of Laloux's train station.

The second section of furniture and objets d'art, which is devoted to the international modernist decorative arts of the end of the century—called Art Nouveau, Jugendstil, or modern style—is situated on the second floor and in the upper pavilion. Here we find the pioneers of English design beginning in the 1860s-70s, followed by creators as inventive as Hector Guimard, Emile Galle, and Rene-Jules Lalique (France); Henry Van de Velde (Belgium); Charles Rennie Mackintosh (Scotland); Josef Hoffmann and Koloman Moser (Austria); Carlo Bugatti (Italy); and Frank Lloyd Wright (United States).

Many of these creators were architects, a domain that is also represented in the museum by models and drawings, plans, re-creations, and other projects, a selection of which gives one a sense of the period's variety, from the eclecticism of the Second Empire and the visionary or traditionalist Beaux-Arts style to industrial architecture and Art Nouveau. To protect them from the damaging effects of light, architectural drawings are shown only in rotation, as are all the other drawings, to which several rooms are devoted. To the Orsay's wonderful collection of nineteenth-century drawings and watercolors, stored at the Cabinet des Arts Graphiques in the Musee du Louvre, has recently been added a series of gifts or acquisitions of works by Charles Baudelaire, Degas, Gauguin, and Seurat, several of which have been selected for inclusion here. Whereas these works on paper cannot be permanently exhibited, the same is not true of the famous pastels by Millet, Manet, and Redon reproduced here, which are kept on display under very faint lighting.

The fragility of photographic paper means that our collection, which is extremely rich, is displayed only for short periods. One should not be surprised, therefore, to find works in this book that might not be seen in the course of one's visit in person. The photographic collection has been established over the last fifteen years with an eye to diversity and internationalism, as evidenced here by a choice that ranges from early specimens of photography—daguerreotypes or negatives on paper from the years 1840-50 by William Henry Fox Talbot, Charles Nègre, Gustave Le Gray, Nadar, and Lewis Carroll—to the most modern examples by Eugène Atget and Edward Steichen.

In conclusion, I would like to express the wish that Treasures of the Musee d'Orsay will help the reader preserve vivid memories of the quality and the variety of works seen at this museum. May it especially instill a desire to return again and again in search of new discoveries.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780896600546
  • Publisher: Abbeville Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/28/1995
  • Edition description: Revised
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 207
  • Product dimensions: 9.20 (w) x 12.44 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Introduction

The end of the twentieth century has seen a growing interest in the intellectual and artistic creation of the previous century in Europe, before the fragmentation provoked by World War I. This current curiosity, possibly tinged with a bit of nostalgia, is embodied in the crowds of French and foreign visitors to the Musee d'Orsay: some thirty million to date, if we include those who have come to view the temporary exhibitions organized by the museum at the nearby Grand Palais. The connection between these two great structures, which were both conceived for the Exposition Universelle of 1900, is thus still alive and well one century later: the Grand Palais was and still is devoted to exhibitions; the Orsay train station and hotel, formerly intended to receive and house visitors arriving from southwestern Europe to the heart of Paris, has become the Musee d'Orsay.

"The train station is magnificent and looks like a palace of fine arts, and since the Palace of Fine Arts looks like a train station, I suggested to Laloux [the Orsay architect] that he switch them if there was still time!" wrote the academic painter Edouard Detaille in 1900, before the inauguration of the two buildings. His mission for the train station, at least, was accomplished as of December 1986.

Let's back up a bit to the circumstances that led to the preposterous concept of transforming a train station into a museum. This idea resulted from several changes that had occurred in the 1970s. In 1977 the transfer of the twentieth-century art collections to the Centre d'Art et de Culture Georges Pompidou (popularly known as the Beaubourg) left an entire segment of art, from Impressionism to Cubism,at the Palais de Tokyo (former site of the Musee National d'Art Moderne). The lack of space at the Jeu de Paume, the Impressionist museum, meant that masterpieces were being kept in storage, as was an entire group of paintings and sculptures at the Musee du Louvre that did not fit into any chronological or aesthetic category at either the Louvre or the Beaubourg. Meanwhile, there was a critical reevaluation taking place of nineteenth-century art that did not fit into the somewhat sectarian history of the avant-gardes; this complemented the desire to show the work of the period as a whole—its photography, architecture, furnishings, and objets d'art as well as its painting and sculpture. All of these forces made the creation of a new museum an urgent matter—a museum that would form a bridge between the Louvre and the Beaubourg.

Meanwhile, in the heart of Paris, a vacant building was in danger of being destroyed to make way for a hotel: the Orsay train station and hotel, opposite the Louvre and the Tuileries gardens. The building, which had been considered ugly only a few decades earlier—so distinctly was its exterior marked by the eclectic style of the late nineteenth century, even though inside it was a beautiful example of modern architecture in glass and steel—was reconsidered and supported by a forceful press campaign. At the time, Parisians were still reeling from the shock of the recent destruction of Les Halles, the food market that was a masterpiece of steel architecture from the 1850s. The idea of saving the train station dovetailed with the search by the museums and the Ministry of Culture for a site that would provide a dignified setting for Impressionist and Post-Impressionist painting. The container, in short, found its content. The decision dates from 1973; museographic programming began in 1978.

The adaptation of Victor Laloux's 1900 building, classified a historical monument, was entrusted to a trio of young architects—Renaud Bardon, Pierre Colboc, and Jean-Paul Philippon—and then, along with them, to Gae Aulenti for the fine tuning and overall appearance. The museum's team of curators in all disciplines—painting, sculpture, decorative arts, architecture, photography, and so on—led by Michel Laclotte (who, since the opening of the Orsay, has successfully overseen the completion of the Louvre's spectacular renovation and extension), began thinking together about appropriate uses for this train station. For all of us, deciding what should be chosen or eliminated, what the priorities should be and how the spaces should be organized was a difficult, passionate, often contentious process. What a challenge! On the very spot where trains came and went, at the site of so much commotion, of so many timetables and fleeting instants, were to be presented museum objects—which by their very nature aspire to eternity. In addition, permanent exhibition rooms had to be created without destroying the essence of an architectural structure that was itself a museum piece. Some of its main advantages were the immense glass vault overhead and the glass bays overlooking the Seine, diffusing northern light and, from the top floor, affording a marvelous view of Paris and its river.

Let's put aside the building for a moment and go inside the museum, which has been open to the public since December 1986. The period represented runs from 1848 to approximately 1905 for painting, and until 1914 for the rest. Why this time differential? Because pictorial developments generally preceded those of the other arts, displaying paintings made up to the start of World War I would have meant introducing to the Musee d'Orsay Fauvism, Cubism, and the beginnings of abstract art—basically a large part of the Beaubourg's domain and currently considered as belonging more to the beginning of the twentieth century than to the end of the nineteenth. This may, in fact, be open to debate. In any case, clear administrative boundaries had to be determined: thus, artists born between 1820 and 1870 are presented at the Musee d'Orsay; those born before that are in the Louvre, after that, at the Beaubourg. There are a few exceptions: the entire body of work by Edouard Vuillard, who was active until the 1940s, is at the Orsay, while the entire body of work by Henri Matisse, except for the one Neo-Impressionist painting reproduced here, is exhibited at the Beaubourg, even though he was born in 1869. As for Pierre Bonnard, his work is divided between the two institutions. Similarly, we did not wish to cut artists off from their immediate sources: thus, the tour of the museum begins with a few late works by Camille Corot, Eugène Delacroix, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, François Rude, and Honore Daumier, all of whom belong to the generation presented on the other side of the Seine, at the Louvre.

The dates 1848 and 1905, which in principle mark the beginning and end of the artistic creation shown here, may seem arbitrary boundaries, and a half-century of creation may seem a minor affair. But what a half-century it was! A time of such prodigious wealth and variety that the museum's eighteen thousand square meters of exhibition space barely suffice to contain it.

This mid-century corresponds, historically and culturally, to a moment of transition: it saw the appearance and recognition of Realism in the work of Gustave Courbet, Jean-François Millet, and the Barbizon landscape artists, as well as the first Universal Expositions (London, 1851; and Paris, 1855 and 1867). These world fairs disseminated European art and were a forum first for confrontation and eventually for association between art and industry, helping stimulate developments such as still photography and cinema. During this time, high-quality industrial art also emerged, conceived at first in England by groups of artist-artisans who were soon to be the creators of the Arts and Crafts movement. At the same time, new uses of steel were coming about that would rapidly transform architecture.

Such new tendencies faced increasing resistance from the eclectic, academic tradition, which would later be nicknamed "art pompier." One of the particularities of the Musee d'Orsay is that it conveys these tensions and shows the variety of all these different modes of creation. Thus, the ground floor (the first part of the visit, ranging from 1848 to the 1870s, which more or less corresponds to the Second Empire in France) is divided in two by an alley of sculptures, ending in a sort of square dominated by the greatest French sculptor of the era, Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux. A series of models also evokes Baron Haussmann's new Paris and Charles Garnier's Opera. On the right-hand side of this aisle is displayed work in the classical or academic current, featuring history painting, large decorative panels, and portraits, from Ingres and Delacroix to Pierre Puvis de Chavannes and the young Edgar Degas.

On the left, in opposition to Ingrism and Romanticism, are the social scenes and caricatures sculpted by Daumier, the Realism of the Barbizon landscape painters, and particularly the work of Courbet, whose large canvases, Burial at Ornans and The Studio, mark the beginning of a "new painting" even more than the famous Salon des Refuses of 1863. The hero of modernity in the 1860s, Edouard Manet, is represented opposite his friend Degas, who evolved out of the Ingres tradition but was also connected with the new generation of Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, and Paul Cezanne—all future members of the Impressionist group. Work by these artists constitutes some of the museum's greatest highlights.

The second part of the painting tour takes the visitor behind the towers at the end of the aisle and onto the escalator to the upper gallery, where the glass roof diffuses the same fluctuating daylight that the Impressionists had made their subject. These artists are represented here in all their glory. After the masterpieces of the 1870s, each painter—Manet, Degas, Renoir, Monet, Cezanne—receives a comprehensive display.

Next comes another of the museum's most popular areas: beautiful series by Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, and the Pont-Aven school; Georges Seurat and the Neo-Impressionists; Odilon Redon and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. After that section the visitor must go down to the middle floor to reach the exhibition spaces that open onto terraces filled with statues, ending in an esplanade devoted to the second great sculptor presented at the Musee d'Orsay: Auguste Rodin, with his Gates of Hell and Balzac.

To the left of the esplanade is a group of paintings that embodies the official and fashionable taste of the Third Republic, which preferred Leon Bonnat and William Bouguereau to Manet, and Ernest Meissonnier and Giovanni Boldini to Degas. Here we find famous portraits—from Albert Edelfelt's Pasteur to Jacques-Emile Blanche's Proust, as well as images that have filled the history books of several generations of young French students, such as Edouard Detaille's Dream and Jean-Paul Laurens's Excommunication of Robert the Pious in 998. Not far from here are works by foreign artists, often wisely acquired by the State at the time they were made. These include paintings by Winslow Homer, the Italian Pelizza di Volpedo, and the Russian Nikolai Nikolaievitch Gay. This section has been strengthened by additions made since the opening of the museum, enabling us to present artists such as Edward Burne-Jones (English), George Hendrik Breitner (Dutch), Ferdinand Hodler (Swiss), Gustav Klimt (Austrian), Edvard Munch (Norwegian), and Valentine Serov (Russian).

Finally, after the rooms devoted to decoration and to French and international Art Nouveau, in which decorative works by Redon and Bonnard are exhibited, the painting tour ends with works from the turn and early part of the twentieth century, including the Nabis—Maurice Denis, Felix Vallotton, Vuillard, and Bonnard—whom we observe here in their breathtaking maturity. It is Bonnard whose work fills the final room of the circuit, recently enriched by gifts.

While on this topic, let us not forget that the Musee d'Orsay would not exist without the donations and bequests that have been made since the end of the last century and that constitute the majority of the paintings on view here today. Let us briefly retrace these successive acts of generosity. First, that by the painter Gustave Caillebotte, whose bequest of 1896 put a great number of works by his Impressionist friends into the museums; by the Etienne Moreau-Nelatons, collectors who gave Manet's Luncheon on the Grass and an excellent selection of Impressionist paintings (1906); by Isaac de Camondo, who, in particular, brought Cezanne into the Louvre and gave Manet's Balcony as well as a superb series of works by Degas (1911). Let us also recall the bequests of Chauchard (1909), who gave the state Millet's famous Angelus and an exceptional collection of landscape works from the Barbizon School. We should mention particularly the postwar donations by Dr. Paul Gachet and by his son (seven Cezannes and as many van Goghs) (1949-54), by Eduardo Mollard (1961) and by Max and Rosy Kaganovitch (1973), not to mention Auguste Pellerin's bequest of several works by Cezanne, followed by his family's donation of that artist's Woman with a Coffee Pot (1956). Masterpieces have also been left to us by Jacques Doucet (1929) and John Quinn (1927): Henri Rousseau's Snake Charmer and Seurat's Circus, respectively.

The artists' descendants, too, have allowed works by Frederic Bazille, Courbet, Degas, Emile Galle, Monet, Camille Pissarro, Redon, Renoir, Paul Serusier, Paul Signac, Toulouse-Lautrec, and others to be displayed or better represented. The same generosity has been evident, in the area of portraiture, among the models and their families: this is the source, for example, of Manet's Zola, of Franz-Xaver Winterhalter's Madame Barbe de Rimsky-Korsakov, of Jules-Elie Delaunay's Madame Georges Bizet, of van Gogh's Dr. Paul Gachet, of Serov's Mme. Lvov, of Louis Welden Hawkins's Severine, and of Bonnard's Portrait of the Bernheim Brothers—to cite only those that are reproduced here.

Ever since the principle of dation—using works of art for the payment of inheritance taxes—was instituted in France in 1968, numerous masterpieces have thus been acquired: works by Manet (The Escape of Rochefort), Monet (Luncheon on the Grass and Rue Montorgueil, Paris: Festival of June 30, 1878), Renoir (Dance in the City), Bonnard (The Seasons, The Loge, The Bourgeois Afternoon), Redon (Decorative Panels), and Matisse (Luxe, calme et volupte).

We should perhaps note where all the works now exhibited at the Musee d'Orsay were originally housed. To simplify matters: whatever is prior to Impressionism had been at the Louvre, either exhibited (Courbet, for example) or in storage (many academic works). Works by Manet, the Impressionists, and the immediate Post-Impressionists (van Gogh, Gauguin, Seurat) had been exhibited at the Jeu de Paume. Painting from after this period—the Nabis, Symbolists, foreign schools, and so on—had been on display or in storage at the Musee National d'Art Moderne before being transferred to the Beaubourg. Just about everything else now on view at the Musee d'Orsay was not being displayed anywhere. Many of the sculptures were in storage or otherwise inaccessible at the Louvre, except those by Carpeaux and Rodin (the Rodin museum has generously entrusted us with certain of its pieces). As with painting, we have endeavored to show the variety of sculpture from the Second Empire to the end of the century: from Auguste Preult's and Jean-Paul Aube's Romanticism, to Daumier's and then Jules Dalou's Realism and to the various forms of the classicist revival, from Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse in mid-century to Ariste Maillol and Emile-Antoine Bourdelle at the turn of this century. We go from the eclectic style of classical practitioners such as Charles Cordier and Louis-Ernest Barrias—who played with materials by mixing marble, semiprecious stones, and bronze—to the technical innovations or return to primitivism by painter-sculptors such as Degas and Gauguin.

Since the museum's mandate is to present a multidisciplinary view of this half-century, we have had to attempt to fill in entire areas of creation that had previously been absent from the national collections. Indeed, aside from a few loans from the Musee des Arts Decoratifs, everything now on display at the Musee d'Orsay in the area of furnishings, objets d'art, architecture, and photography has been acquired over the last fifteen years.

The furniture and objets d'art are divided into two main sections. On the ground floor, to the right of the painting circuit, are the rooms devoted to the Second Empire—its wallpapers, the wealth of its gold and cabinet work, the technical refinement of its everyday objects, and several masterpieces of the eclectic neo-Greek and neo-Gothic styles. With few exceptions, we have avoided mixing disciplines or combining paintings, sculptures, and objects from the same period in one room; there is no "period room" at the Musee d'Orsay, no reconstructed atmosphere. On first glance when entering the museum, the sight of all the sculptures in perspective under the great glass vault may evoke not a specific interior but the style of the Salon exhibitions at the nineteenth-century Expositions Universelles. Painting, here as in the Salons, unfolds in separate galleries, but the whole does not seek to imitate a plush, hothouse effect; on the contrary, the space is defined by the strong contemporary architecture of Gae Aulenti, who emphasized the transparent, metallic structure of Laloux's train station.

The second section of furniture and objets d'art, which is devoted to the international modernist decorative arts of the end of the century—called Art Nouveau, Jugendstil, or modern style—is situated on the second floor and in the upper pavilion. Here we find the pioneers of English design beginning in the 1860s-70s, followed by creators as inventive as Hector Guimard, Emile Galle, and Rene-Jules Lalique (France); Henry Van de Velde (Belgium); Charles Rennie Mackintosh (Scotland); Josef Hoffmann and Koloman Moser (Austria); Carlo Bugatti (Italy); and Frank Lloyd Wright (United States).

Many of these creators were architects, a domain that is also represented in the museum by models and drawings, plans, re-creations, and other projects, a selection of which gives one a sense of the period's variety, from the eclecticism of the Second Empire and the visionary or traditionalist Beaux-Arts style to industrial architecture and Art Nouveau. To protect them from the damaging effects of light, architectural drawings are shown only in rotation, as are all the other drawings, to which several rooms are devoted. To the Orsay's wonderful collection of nineteenth-century drawings and watercolors, stored at the Cabinet des Arts Graphiques in the Musee du Louvre, has recently been added a series of gifts or acquisitions of works by Charles Baudelaire, Degas, Gauguin, and Seurat, several of which have been selected for inclusion here. Whereas these works on paper cannot be permanently exhibited, the same is not true of the famous pastels by Millet, Manet, and Redon reproduced here, which are kept on display under very faint lighting.

The fragility of photographic paper means that our collection, which is extremely rich, is displayed only for short periods. One should not be surprised, therefore, to find works in this book that might not be seen in the course of one's visit in person. The photographic collection has been established over the last fifteen years with an eye to diversity and internationalism, as evidenced here by a choice that ranges from early specimens of photography—daguerreotypes or negatives on paper from the years 1840-50 by William Henry Fox Talbot, Charles Nègre, Gustave Le Gray, Nadar, and Lewis Carroll—to the most modern examples by Eugène Atget and Edward Steichen.

In conclusion, I would like to express the wish that Treasures of the Musee d'Orsay will help the reader preserve vivid memories of the quality and the variety of works seen at this museum. May it especially instill a desire to return again and again in search of new discoveries.

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Table of Contents

Introduction

Paintings: Classicism; Romanticism and Realism; History Painting and Official Portraits; The New Painting of the 1860s and Impressionism

Sculpture

Decorative Arts

Pastels

Drawings and Watercolors

Architecture

Photography

Index of Illustrations

Author Biography: Françoise Cachin, former director of the Musee d'Orsay, is now director of the Museums of France. The great-granddaughter of the Neo-Impressionist artist Paul Signac, she has written extensively on the art of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

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