Musée Mormottan Monet

Musée Mormottan Monet
Musée Mormottan Monet   To say I was thrilled about this visit is an understatement. I had even planned to remove my shades in respect of the great man. I strolled back up to Pl. de Passy, turned left and set off walking straight along rue Chaussée de la Muette, crossed the road and continued straight along Avenue du Ranelagh—admiring the parks at left and right, with families playing or having picnics and a bunch of dopey donkeys standing around—then turned right, took my first left and there I was. I gulped. Ground Floor   No Cameras. No mobile phones. Would they take my money, please? Bien sur! (6 euros fifty cents.) Much more sophisticated. They even took my bag off me. I wandered in there. The ground floor was full of sculptures, huge rooms with tiny beds and huge desks (what does that say about the French?), giant paintings and tiny miniatures, most of which were dull. A notable exception being ‘La Duchesse de Feltre et ses Enfants, by François-Xavier Fabre; Salon du 1810,’ in which the characters actually had personalities. Outside a room filled with religious pictures, paintings and illustrations from the middle ages, were several statuettes of Jesus and His Mom, along with some Saintly friends, dating between the XV – XVI century. These were effective, all with innocent faces filled with love. It was difficult to come to grips with how long these objects had been in the world.   Also on the ground floor, at the extreme left above the stairs leading down to the Monet room, were an amazing set of items: First a huge chart giving all the details and major dates in Monet’s life; then, to the left of that, some real treats: ‘Palette de l’Artiste.’ Monet’s own paint-covered artist’s pallet; ‘Portrait de Michel Monet, bébé, 1878/1879.’ Renoir’s ‘Portrait de Mde Victorine de Bellio, 1892.’ Carolus Duran’s stunningly dark and atmospheric 1867 portrait of a twenty-seven year old Monet; and Monet’s ‘Clématites Blanches, 1887.’ There were some good photographs of the great man, too. First Floor I had to save the best till last so I strolled the length of the corridor, away from the steps leading down to Monet, steered clear of the gift shops and walked up the wide, bare steps leading to the first floor.   I tried to take in the sign in front of me: ‘La Nature Sous le Pinceau et L’Encre. Peintures Chinoises des Dynasties des Ming et des Qing dans la Collection du Musée du Shangai.’ I figured maybe I could buy a sandwich in there, so I went in. Rather than a sandwich, I was confronted by a room filled with ancient scrolls, dating between the 14 and 17 hundreds, upon which were drawn or painted amazing pictures of nature: little villages near streams and waterfalls; mountains; meadows; ancient worlds from other cultures. A captivating little collection by a wide variety of oriental artists. From here I wondered out and into another room and BANG!—my love of the impressionists and post-impressionists was immediately indulged. I knew I was onto a good thing the moment I saw Camille Pissarro’s ‘Les Boulevards Extérieurs. Effet de Neige, 1879,’ coupled with Monet’s ‘Le Train dans la Neige. La Locomotive, 1875.’ Both deal with that bleak, lonely winter feel, but the former had a touch of comedy about it, with a huddled figure trudging down the road Lowry fashion, whereas Monet gave the solitary train two blazing headlights of homely, warming fire, against the bleakness of the surrounding countryside. So it began: Gaugin’s ‘Bouquet de Fleurs, 1897’ was impressive, and the painting and frame seemed inseparable, making me wonder if Gaugin had made it himself. Also impressive was the gorgeous ‘Rue de Paris. Temps de Pluie, 1877’ by Gustave Caillebotte. This simple picture of people strolling along a (trafficless!) Paris street…
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