Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Paris museums 10 -- Orangerie

After World War 1, the prime minister of France invited Claude Monet to display and continue working on his huge waterlily paintings at the Orangerie, built as a greenhouse on the north bank of the Seine but later converted to a museum.  In addition to the eight waterlily panels on display on the main floor, there is a surprisingly beautiful museum of other impressionist work in a below-ground gallery.

Taking pictures of the lilies is prohibited, but here's a shot from the NYTimes when the gallery was reopened a few years ago after major renovations.

But downstairs we could shoot to our heart's content, and I did.

As a lover of still lifes, I was enthralled by this room full, each of them good enough to eat.  The Renoirs were nice but I zipped past them and headed straight for the Cézannes.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Pêches, 1881-82

Paul Cézanne, Vase paillé, sucrier et pommes, 1890-93

Renoir's fruits are impressionistic, of course, with their indistinct swirly background and white tablecloth, but somehow Cézanne's seem far more modern.  The table is precipitously tilted, the apples and dishes are flat, the colors arbitrarily applied.  From the Renoir I get a beautiful ambiance of peachiness; from the Cézanne I get a jolt of adrenaline.

Here are more Cézannes.

Paul Cézanne, Pommes et biscuits, 1879-80

Paul Cézanne, Nature morte, poire et pommes vertes, ~1873

Paul Cézanne, Pommes et poires, 1890-95  

Although this is the latest picture in the bunch, it seems the most traditional, or perhaps I'm just fooled by its similarity to the Renoir above: purply-pinky-gray background, bright white tablecloth with its highlights reminding me of so many impressionist snow scenes.

Paul Cézanne, Fruits, serviette et boîte à lait, 1880-81


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