From the Orsay Gallery to the Rodin museum to l’Orangerie – in Paris one can experience the masterpieces of the most famous artists the world has ever seen.
Personally I am enchanted with the Impressionists. Monet, Renoir, Van Gogh, Degas… my much-loved French teacher in high school introduced me to these artists. And, every chance to be in front of their work – in person – is a gift. A photo does not capture the full beauty of their paintings – it just can’t express the energy of each brush stroke or the intensity of color.
I was a little sad to find the Orsay has been renovated since I last visited. The changes were disappointing. But, the art was not! So many of my favorites live here. It is bit like seeing old friends.
Monet was a master of light, color, reflection and emotional sensitivity. He had a deep connection to nature and was an avid gardener. On this trip, his work touched me more deeply than ever before.
On previous trips to Paris, the l’Orangerie museum was closed. This time it was open and I finally got to see Monet’s giant water lily paintings.
The entryway is white – it is just a small empty, circular room. I sensed this was meant to cleanse my “visual palette”. And, I wasn’t wrong.
Stepping through the door into a large oval space I was suddenly immersed in color… surrounded on all sides by Monet’s massive water lily canvases lit with natural light from above. I was overwhelmed – pure joy, love, delight, beauty.
There are seats in the center to rest and soak in the paintings. Or, you can walk from canvas to canvas. The gallery is kept still and quiet. The experience was restorative and inspiring. Even a bit religious.
After seeing these monumental water lily paintings, I felt called to make a pilgrimage to Monet’s home at Giverny. I wanted to walk where he walked, see what he saw. It was divine. Winding paths through the water garden with overhanging willow trees, lily ponds and Japanese style bridges, flower gardens, fruit trees and the family home – all restored and lovingly kept.
The house was bright and welcoming, full of charm and dotted with art from around the world. In particular Monet had a fascination for Japanese prints and furniture.
I really wanted to sit down in the cozy studio and talk with him a while.
The blue tile and copper pans of the warm, country kitchen absolutely captivated me. I didn’t realize it was well past closing time, but a guard patiently waited for me to finish photographing every detail.