Saturday, 1 November 2014

'Waterlillies' at The Orangerie

I visited the Musee De L'Orangerie for the first time while in Paris last week. I've been outside the Orangerie before but never inside and what a glory it is. There was some kind of security alert going on when we first got there there, with people being ushered away from the building but, later, we joined the queue to get in and waited patiently. And waited. And then got in and through the security and could see the glory that awaited us.

Les Nympheas - the waterlillies - are a sight worth seeing. I knew the paintings were big but didn't realise just how big. They're huge!

Two oval rooms with four enormous paintings in each around the walls. The waterlillies ponds in the morning, in the evening, during a rainstorm, at sunset… it's all there in marvellous glory and I have to admit to getting a bit teary. This old man, Claude Monet, going blind and insisting on painting what he sees how he sees it. What's with these old French artists that keeps them going, keeps them creating and making us gasp at the wonder?

I was in awe of the majesty of what I was seeing in the flesh for the first time. We've all probably seen reproductions of some of the waterlillies paintings ht seeing the reality of then is really quite stunning. Seeing the rain drops in the ponds, the willow trees and the waterlillies themselves floating in the shimmering water… it's all quite stunning. And the size of them - wow!

The museum is in the Orangerie in the Tuileries and is much bigger underground than it looks on the surface. The original building has been converted into a space to house Monet's paintings in two large oval rooms but it's been expanded underground as a gallery to show off more French paintings. The waterlillies alone are worth the entry price and I see everything else as a free extra.

There was an exhibition of paintings by Emile Bernard that I didn't find terribly inspiring but the exhibition of paintings from the collection of Jean Walter and Paul Guillaume was well worth wandering round.

The exhibition included works from every post-impressionist you could ask for but I was particularly taken with paintings by Soutine, Derain and Rousseau.  There were some great paintings by Picasso and Cezanne to marvel at but for some unknown reason I loved Andre Derain's 'Le Gros Arbre' (the big tree) and loved Matisse's 'Odalisque a La Culotte Rouges'. Sometimes you've just got to go with the flow. The Orangerie should be on everyone's list of places to visit when they go to Paris.

I will certainly go back and enjoy wallowing in the glory of M Monet and whatever exhibition is going on in support of his waterlillies. It's so worth it!

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