Oh how the French love Monet. If you’ve been to the Musée d’Orsay or l’Orangerie, if you’ve ever cracked open a book on French art, in fact if you’ve ever heard of Impressionism, then you’ll be familiar with Monet’s dreamy waterlilies, pastel haystacks, wistful ladies with parasols and rosy-cheeked children running through poppy fields. Yet even if you feel like you know the artist inside out, le Musée Marmottan, with the largest Monet collection in the world, is still well worth the visit.
Tucked away in the 16th, Paris’ sleepiest arrondissement, le Musée Marmottan resides in a building worthy of admiration in itself. Make sure you take the time to wander through the ground-floor apartments, decked out in all their nineteenth-century glory.
On the ground level you’ll find some lovely Berthe Morisot portraits and a smattering of Degas and Renoirs, however the key works are located on the first floor. Perhaps the superstar of the collection is Impression: soleil levant, a major moment in the Impressionist movement, and purportedly responsible for its name. The work was stolen in 1985, along with five other paintings, yet rediscovered and returned to the museum in 1990.
Claude Monet, Impression: soleil levant (Impression, Sunrise), 1872
However, my personal favourites were the London cityscapes, popping with their slathers of bright white oil paint, and the tranquil scene of a dappled green pond and meandering boat in Le Bateau:
Claude Monet, Le Bateau (The Boat), 1844
The lower levels of the museum are a little characterless and vault-like, though they do house some impressive, larger-scale waterlilies and garden scenes. Wander back up through the ground floor rooms to savour the atmosphere before you exit ; few museums have such a charming, intimate feel.
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