Impressionist Works from Private Collections at Musée Marmottan

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Despite the fact that Musée Marmottan Monet, in the 16th, contains the world’s largest collection of Monet’s works, as well as drawings and paintings by Manet, Pissaro, Sisley, Renoir, and Berthe Morisot, it’s a lesser known Paris museum, and under-appreciated.

The current expo, “Impressionist Works from Private Collections”, solidifies the museum’s reputation as a hidden gem.

The show consists of 100 masterpieces that trace the development of Impressionism, from its first stirrings (works by Corot, Boudin and Jongkind explore plein air painting and the play of light in landscapes), through the movement’s high point in the late 1870s (Monet, Renoir, Pissaro, Sisley and others favor locations along the Seine), and beyond, as Impressionists began to pursue new directions, opening the door to modern art. The progression is a perfect lead-up to Monet’s later works, which are on the verge of abstraction.

The show begins on the ground floor, where a narrow hall is lined with the early landscape paintings, and filled with people. The crowds thin when the rooms open up; subsequent spaces give special attention to Degas, Caillebotte and Cezanne. The show ends downstairs, where several rooms are devoted to Monet’s life and his studies of water lilies. Outside the exhibit, part of the permanent collection on the first floor, are exquisite paintings by Berthe Morisot.

The popularity of the temporary expo means that there are lines at the entrance, which you can avoid by buying tickets on-line. When you arrive at the front door with your ticket, look for the sign that says “Coupe-file”.

Until July 6

Have you been to Musée Marmottan? to this show? what are your impressions?

Paris for Fashionistas – “Impressionisme et la Mode” at Musée d’Orsay

Impressionisme et la Mode” at Musée d’Orsay is a multifaceted show, featuring paintings by Manet, Monet, Caillebotte and other Impressionist painters; beautifully conserved 19th century dresses from Musée Galliera; photographs and lithographs from Paris department stores; and, to fully recreate the fashion world of the late 1800s, chairs marked with names as if for a fashion show, and quotes from Zola and Baudelaire.

Seen in this context, paintings like Manet’s “La Dame à l’Eventail” and “Le Balcon” take on new life. Works by women artists Berthe Morisot, Camille Corot, Eva Gonzoles, and Mary Cassatt lend female perspectives to the period and the dress. Men’s fashions are treated, too, with works such as Caillebotte’s wonderful “Au Café” and Fantin Latour’s “Un Atelier aux Batignolles”.

The collection brings together custom, culture, fashion and art. It renders the world of the Impressionists not just visible, but sensorial, experiential.

Afterward, shop the excellent museum bookstore for books on fashion through time, mother-of-pearl buttons, and hats by contemporary milliner Marie Mercie. Until Jan 20, 2013.