When planning this trip I came across a couple of references to the Museum Marmottan Monet. It seemed like a place we would really like. Knowing my friend Jeff is a big fan of Impressionism, I asked him about it. The response was enthusiastic, so here we are.
The museum itself is housed in a mansion that once belonged to the Marmottan family. Part of it is comprised of traditional rooms showcasing the Marmottan collections of Renaissance and First Empire (Napoleonic) art. Interesting enough, but not why we are here.
I want to see the Impressionist paintings, some of which line the adjoining halls. A variety of artists are represented, many in the form of fascinating portraits.
It’s lovely and interesting, but a darkened room beckons. I peak inside and find it is filled with exquisite illuminations. Nobody told me these were here!
An unexpected treasure trove of medieval illuminations
I love illuminations, so it is a treat to come across these. The intricate detail and luminosity always draws me in.
These are particularly interesting because a few depict activities within great European churches. I’ve never seen anything like that before and wish they had more of them on display!
Unfortunately, most of these tiny masterpieces have been removed from their original context, literally cut out of the written text or musical score they were intended to enhance. I’m sure that was considered perfectly appropriate when they were collected, but some of their meaning has been unnecessarily and irretrievably lost to time.
Enough of that for now, time for the main attraction – Claude Monet.
Surrounded by Monet
Most of the collection of Monets are displayed in a special lower-level gallery.
Stepping down into it is to enter another world.
The colors and light in each painting are amazing – most are a world apart from the delicate pastel-colored water lilies and haystacks I generally associate with Monet.
What I was expecting:
What I discovered:
Of course, the museum has some light and ethereal paintings too, including a lovely image of Rouen Cathedral, a subject Monet returned to over and over again.
But most blaze with color and energy.
I don’t think of Monet’s work as particularly abstract, but some of the paintings here lean that direction. . .
. . . and some are completely abstract like this one, which is similar to some in the museum’s collection.
It’s quite a revelation.
The Museum Marmottan Monet also features the original “Impression soleil levant” (Impression of Sunrise), the painting that gave this artistic movement its name.
While important as a piece of history, the painting itself is gorgeous, the use of color and light masterful.