The neighbourhood

Orangerie Museum

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The setting planned by Monet in the Tuileries Garden to show off his Water Lilies series.

As its name suggests, the Musée de l'Orangerie is housed in a former orangery, built in 1852 by the architect Firmin Bourgeois and completed by his successor, Ludovico Visconti, to house the orange trees in the Tuileries Gardens.

The history of the Orangerie Museum

In 1921, the building was given to the Beaux-Arts administration, which planned to make it an annex of the Musée du Luxembourg. Two years earlier, Claude Monet offered Les Nymphéas to France, the very day after the armistice of 11 November 1918. It was then that Georges Clemenceau, a friend of the painter and current President of the Council, suggested that Monet install his work there. Opening onto the Seine and the garden, the artist saw it as a privileged place for his work, with the calm of the Tuileries Garden while being in the heart of Paris. He then imagined the place as a real space for meditation. The "Claude Monet Museum" was thus inaugurated in 1927, a few months after the artist's death. The public discovered the Water Lilies in the presentation designed by the painter and implemented by the architect Camille Lefèvre. Considered the culmination of Monet's career, Les Nymphéas is a mural ensemble of three hundred canvases, which occupy two vast elliptical rooms: over a height of 2 metres and nearly 100 linear metres, a water landscape is spread out, punctuated by water lilies, lit by natural light. The work is inspired by Monet's familiar world: the water garden of his property in Giverny. The stroll through the exhibition allows visitors to take in this landscape. From one room to another, the eye glides over the reflections of the water to plunge the viewer into contemplation.

Renovation work needed

During the 1960s, the museum was transformed to accommodate the Jean Walter and Paul Guillaume collection, which nevertheless distorted the original layout intended by Monet. The 144 paintings collected by Paul Guillaume, a dealer and collector, and later by his wife Domenica, who remarried to the architect and industrialist Jean Walter, include Renoir, Cézanne, the Douanier Rousseau, Matisse, Picasso, Derain, Modigliani, Soutine, Marie Laurencin and Utrillo.

Thanks to the renovation and extension work carried out since 2000, the Musée de l'Orangerie invites the public to contemplate the famous Les Nymphéas, which have been placed at the heart of the museum and given back their light, and the masterpieces from the Jean Walter and Paul Guillaume collection, which now benefit from natural lighting.

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