Orangerie Museum

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

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Le musee de l'orangerie a Paris

As its name suggests, the Orangerie Museum is located in a former orangery, built in 1852 by the architect Firmin Bourgeois and completed by his successor, Ludovico Visconti, to house the orange trees from the Tuileries Garden.

The history of the Orangerie Museum

In 1921, the building was given to the administration of the Beaux-Arts, who planned to turn it into an annexe of the Luxembourg Museum. Two years before, Claude Monet had donated The Water Lilies to the French state, soon after the armistice of 11 November 1918. It was then that Georges Clemenceau, a friend of the painter's and the head of the government at the time, asked Monet to set up  his work there. Opening on to the River Seine and the garden, the artist saw it as an ideal site for his work, with all the peace and quiet of the Tuileries Garden, while still being at the heart of the city of Paris. He conceived the site as a real area for meditation. The "Claude Monet Museum" was inaugurated in 1927, a few months after the artist's death.

The public discovered The Water Lilies in the form designed by the painter and staged by the architect Camille Lefèvre. Considered as the culmination of Monet's career, The Water Lilies are a collection of 300 paintings, covering two vast eliptic rooms: 2 metres high and almost 100 metres long, we see an aquatic landscape filled with water lilies and lit by natural light.

The work is inspired by Monet's familiar world: the water gardens on his estate in Giverny. As we walk on, we take possession of the landscape. From one room to the next, our eyes glide over the reflections of the water, plunging us deep in contemplation.

Renovation work needed

During the 1960s, work was undertaken to transform the museum and to house the Jean Walter and Paul Guillaume collection, which, however, disrupted Monet's original arrangements. The 144 pictures belonging to Paul Guillaume, a merchant and collector, and then by his wife Domenica, who later remarried the architect and industrialist Jean Walter, include works by Renoir, Cézanne, Le Douanier Rousseau, Matisse, Picasso, Derain, Modigliani, Soutine, Marie Laurencin and Utrillo.

Thanks to the renovation and extension work carried out since 2000, the Orangerie Museum can welcome the public to see the famous Water Lilies, now back at the heart of the museum and returned to the daylight, while the masterpieces of the Jean Walter and Paul Guillaume collection also benefit from natural lighting.

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