History of the Orangerie Museum
The Orangerie Museum was built in 1852 to shelter the orange trees of the Tuileries Garden during the winter, that used to be taken inside the “Grande Galerie” of the Louvre. It’s located in front of the Seine. Its southern wall, facing the river, is made of glass to receive the light and heat of the sun. The northen wall, facing Rivoli street, is opaque.
The Orangerie became a museum in 1921 and is attached to the Orsay Museum since 2010.
In 1918, Claude Monet offered two panel to the French government to celebrate the Frirst World War victory. He was a French painter, born in 1840 in Paris and one of the founders of the impressionist movement. Georges Clemenceau then convinced him to create something even more prestigious than his two panels and reserved the Orangerie Museum to expose the full work.
The two large oval rooms on the ground floor were specifically designed to receive the large versions of Monet’s “Waterlilies”, representing flowery aquariums. According to Monet’s own conception, the eight paintings were split in two rooms following each other. The donation took place in 1922, but the “Waterlilies” were only revealed to the public after his death, in 1926.
The Waterlilies’ period was very important for Monet. Passionate about the beauty of nature, he bought a house in Giverny (Normandy) in 1890 with several gardens full of flowers. Monet becomes specifically passionate about the waterlilies of the water garden. This gave birth to the Waterlilies period, which lasted for three decades and will lead to the creation of approximatively 250 oil paintings. These gardens then became his main source of inspiration : he painted them until his death in 1926, despite his cataract in the last years of his life.
The French government acquired the collections of Jean Walter and Paul Guillaume, in 1959 and 1963, which gave the Orangerie Museum’s final aspect.
Today, the Orangerie Museum mainly presents impressionist and postimpressionist paintings. The collection gathers 148 paintings by 14 painters : Paul Cézanne, André Derain, Paul Gauguin, Marie Laurenin, Henri Matisse, Amedeo Modigliani, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, August Renoir, Henri Rousseau (dit le Douanier), Alfred Sisly, Chaim Soutine, Maurice Ultrillo and Kees Van Dougen.