5 Things You Can't Miss at the Musée d’Orsay

This former railway station is among Paris' premier places for Impressionist paintings

By Google Arts & Culture

The Musée d'Orsay

This art gallery, housed in a former train station on the banks of the river Seine, is one of Paris' most popular - and with good reason. It houses an outstanding collection of 19th-century French art, including sublime sculptures and the masterpieces of the Impressionists. Scroll on and use the click-and-drag function to discover some of the treasures of its collection.

1. The Four Parts of the World Holding the Celestial Sphere

When, in 1867, Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux was commissioned to design a sculpture for the new observatory garden, he turned to classical allegories of the continents. If you look closely, you'll find America standing on the broken chains of slavery - which had been banned in 1865.

2. Romans during the Decadence

Thomas Couture took artistic liberties when he painted Romans during the Decadence in 1847. This moralistic history painting shows debauched drunken revellers neglecting the duties of state - perhaps a barbed message to the French Monarchy under King Louis Philippe I.

Romans of the Decadence (1847) by Thomas CoutureHarvard Art Museums

The painting is rich with details of debauchery. 

3. Maison du Jouir

This carved wooden panel was mounted around the door of Paul Gauguin's Maison du jouir, or House of Pleasure, which he had built in Atuona on the Marquesas island of Hiva-Oa. Gauguin's desire for what he saw as 'primitive art' may now be controversial, but was very influential.

4. Vincent van Gogh

The gallery has one of the world's finest collections of Vincent van Gogh's works. These two may be amongst his lesser-known works, but they can't be missed. To the left is a copy of a work by Millet, his favourite artist, and the right, a portrait of the poet, Eugène Boch.

The siesta (after Millet) (1890) by Vincent van GoghMusée d’Orsay, Paris

The study after Millet is an idyllic pastoral scene, done in luscious gold. 

5. The Impressionists

It's no surprise that the Impressionist galleries are so popular. Where else can you find so many masterpieces in one location? To the left is Édouard Manet's Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe, and to the right is a small, enigmatic study by Paul Cézanne of bathers in a landscape.

Luncheon on the Grass (1863) by Edouard ManetMusée d’Orsay, Paris

Manet's painting caused a scandal when first exhibited in the Paris Salon des Refusés in 1863, an alternative exhibition set up by those deemed too radical for the mainstream annual Salon. It became one of the most influential works of art ever, inspiring Picasso and many more.

6. The architecture

One thing you can't miss here is the architecture. The coming together of 19th-century splendour and modern machine-inspired forms is perhaps unique amongst French Museums. Keep an eye out for features like this original railway clock!

Colorful Toilets (2012) by ChiotUnderground Paris

Ready for a totally different experience of Paris architecture? Go on an urban-exploration adventure with Curio-cité

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Google apps