Orsay

October 26, 2022

Today we got a leisurely start after breakfast and took our time deciding where to visit.  My sister was into impressionist art, so it was decided to tour the Orsay Museum.  After breakfast we rode the bus to the inner city.  This was the same line Melissa and I had taken the day before, so I became the default expert on how to precede.  That proved better on paper than reality, but we did make our way toward the Seine.  While we arrived around 10:30 am, our tickets were not until 1:30 pm.  Having tried to get in early yesterday at Sainte Chapelle, I knew this would not be possible for timed tickets for the Orsay.  We found another bus that took us near the Rodin Museum.  While we did not have tickets, we had been told the garden was free, and this is where The Thinker sculpture stood.  On arrival we were told the gardens were only free on the first Sunday of the month.  Since we could not wait four more days, we moved on, but I did get a good photo of The Thinker statue through the plexiglass fence.  We ate lunch at another quaint sidewalk café, and then it was time for the Orsay.

When I looked online, I found the Orsay Museum (Musée d’Orsay) is located on the Left Bank of the Seine River in Paris, France.  It is housed in the former Gare d’Orsay, a Beaux-Arts railway station built between 1898 and 1900.  The museum holds mainly French art dating from 1848 to 1914, including paintings, sculptures, furniture, and photography.  It houses the largest collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist masterpieces in the world, by painters including Berthe Morisot, Claude Monet, Édouard Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, Seurat, Sisley, Gauguin, and van Gogh.  Many of these works were held at the Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume prior to the museum’s opening in 1986.  It is one of the largest art museums in Europe, and in 2021 had one million visitors, up 30 % from 2020 attendance but still far behind earlier years prior to the pandemic.  Despite the drop, it ranked fifteenth in the list of most-visited art museums in 2020.

When our entrance time arrived, we decided to proceed to the top (fifth) floor and work our way down.  I did not recognize any of the paintings until I got to the Van Gogh wing.  Even there, the only thing I recognized was “Self Portrait”.  Imagine my surprise when I found there were two of these paintings, and although similar they were clearly different.  I proceeded down to the second floor (oddly, the next one that housed art), and found this was comprised of sculpture.  I have to say, it was here that my interest was piqued.  I found sculpture after sculpture that caught my interest.  Even the side wings held paintings that about the Napoleonic Wars that caught my interest.  My companions recognized my lack of interest and had hurried their way through the rest of the museum.  Then while they waited outside, I marveled at the intricate works of sculpture spread before me.

THOUGHTS:  Despite the bus, the walks were long and the day tiresome.  By the time we were outside the museum we were all ready to go back to the hotel.  As I reflected on our day it brought me back to a comment my sister had made as we made our way into the central city.  While riding the bus to our destination my sister commented how she always seemed to be sitting with her back toward the front of the bus.  That meant she always had a better view of where we had been than of where we were going.  It struck me this is much like life.  It is easier to see and comprehend where we have been (the past) than where we are going (the future).  Art is often another presentation of both past, present, and even future reality, and the creators reflect our inner reality, whether they are cave drawings or impressionist virtuosos.  Act for all.  Change is coming and it starts with you.

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