D’Orsay

Aside from lifting pictures off Google, I can’t really show much of d’Orsay. Photos are not allowed, the guards said so, amidst the continual sound of cameras clicking. It is in a former train station, beautifully organized. When we walked past it yesterday I was dismayed by the long long line for tickets. Back at the hotel I got the museum’s iPhone app & bought tickets online – called M-tickets. I didn’t have to print anything out, just showed the guard my phone & they scanned the bar code from the screen. Seriously nobody else was in that line- we just walked right in. I felt very smart.

This wonderful place focuses on French artists but that isn’t exclusive- for example there is a nice grouping of Frank Lloyd Wright & Louis Sullivan in the Art Nouveau galleries. It is known for its Impressionist collection but I really enjoyed other floors as well, especially the Symbolists. I’ve only seen three or four Redon’s, so to have so many to see was great. There is a whole group of galleries just for pastel (Degas, Cassatt etc).
As for the Impressionists, it almost seemed like the only things they were missing are in Chicago. I was surprised by the scale of some of the early Monet’s (huge), and how Toulouse-Lautrec’s large canvases were canvas scraps cobbled together- and I mean scraps.
Another collecting focus I enjoyed was the large number of maquettes, or small hand-held sized terra cotta sculptures made in preparation for sculpture- like preparatory sketches but in clay. There were loads of them. I find these so much more interesting than highly-finished sculptures, they are masterful and immediate. There was one group of small sculptures I thought were perfect for my students- crazy strange fantastic creatures- I wrote down the artist’s name to Google when I got back to the hotel- Emmanuel Fremiet- the same guy who made the St Michel on top of the spire of Mont St Michel & the gold-plated Joan of Arc here in Paris as well as many other awesome things in this museum. I really do not know my sculptors.

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