November 20. Day Four in our Paris Extension of our Viking Cruises’ Cities of Light tour. Morning City Tour with Viking
Today’s tour began with a drive along the Champs-Élysées, past the Arc de Triomphe to the world-famous Louvre. The remainder of the day was ours to squeeze even more to see and do in our last full day in Paris.
The day was wet and cold but the city drive was very fine, with the Champs-Élysées decorated for the holidays. Both the traffic and the size of the Arc de Triomphe made us gasp as we circled it. The only stop we made, a wet one, was at the Eiffel Tower. A different perspective to snap a picture, but this time we could see it decorated with a single, very large holiday ball.
We spent the afternoon at the Musée d’Orsay. Debra’s choice and a good one. The building was built in 1900, and first used as a railway station. In 1986, it changed into the museum which is famous today.
The museum exhibits artworks of the 19th century including Impressionist paintings. The Impressionist paintings include works by Monet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, Manet, and Van Gogh. That’s why the Orsay is called the ‘Impressionism museum.
The museum holds mainly French art dating from 1848 to 1915, including paintings, sculptures, furniture, and photography. Its extensive collection of impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces is the largest in the world. It features work by such painters such as Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, Seurat, Sisley, Gauguin, Van Gogh and many others.
I loved that the d’Orsay allowed its patrons to take photos throughout the museum. I took dozens of photos of about twenty paintings. This was a Van Gogh of a place in Montmartre which we had visited the previous day.
During his brief career Van Gogh only sold one painting. His finest works were all sold in less than three years after his death. Van Gogh’s mother threw away a lot of his paintings during his life and even after his death. But she lived long enough to see him become a world famous painter. He was not well known when he was alive, and most people did not appreciate his art. After he died, though, he became very famous.
Today, many people think Van Gogh is one of the greatest painters in the world and an important influence on modern art. Van Gogh did not begin painting until he was almost 30. Most of his famous works were done in his last two years. He made more than 2,000 artworks, with 900 paintings and 1,100 drawings and sketches.
This Van Gogh was done in 1890, L’Eglise d’Auvers-sur-Oise, vue de chevet.
Alfred Sisley’s first works are lost. No one knows if Sisley’s knew the paintings of J. M. W. Turner and John Constable, which he may have seen in London. These artists have been suggested as an influence on his development as an Impressionist painter, as well as Gustave Courbet and Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot.
I’d seen Sisley’s painting before but today, these were the ones that riveted me. Since he was compared with Corot that makes sense as he’s a favorite of mine. Since we were still in Autumn, I chose this one to post here: Un coin de bois aux Sablons. dit aussi La Route a l’oree du bois.
Among the Impressionists Sisley has been overshadowed by Monet. Sisley’s work very similar to that of Camille Pissarro. Described by art historian Robert Rosenblum as having “almost a generic character, an impersonal textbook idea of a perfect Impressionist painting”, his work strongly creates atmosphere and his skies are always very impressive. His concentration on landscape subjects was the most consistent of any of the Impressionists.
We took a taxi back to the hotel, still raining heavily. We had a picnic dinner in the hotel, eating the rest of the cheese I’d purchased the previous evening in a fresh baguette with a sample of the Maille mustard. We packed as we had an early departure the next morning. One more buffet breakfast with caffe latte in Paris and then off to Luxembourg and embarking the ship in Triers.
Before I turned in, I sent a slew of painting photos to friends who I thought would appreciate a special souvenir of Paris art.