‘Facing the Sun’ at the Marmottan-Monet Museum

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‘Facing the Sun’ at the Marmottan-Monet Museum
“I’m fencing and wrestling with the sun. And what a sun it is…” — Claude Monet, 1888 Following the sun’s path, I ventured east to west to a small museum in a less-visited part of Paris. The late October weather was incredibly warm and prolonging the extent of the sun’s influence seemed vital before a drab, and very possibly cold, winter. Drawing me to the western edge of Paris is the exhibition “Facing the Sun: The Celestial Body in the Arts,” on exhibit at the Musée Marmottan Monet from 21 September 2022 to 29 January 2023. Facing the sun, courtesy of Hazel Smith There’s more than the sun to soak up, so to start, a little history. In 1882, Jules Marmottan acquired the former hunting lodge of the third Duc du Valmy, built circa 1870 on the border of the Bois de Boulogne. Upon Marmottan’s death, his son Paul transformed the mansion into a luxurious townhouse, where he displayed the medieval and Renaissance collections inherited from his father, along with his own objets d’arts. Paul Marmottan, in turn bequeathed the house and all its collections to the Academie des Beaux Arts. A mere two years after his death in 1932, the house reopened as the Musée Marmottan. Since that time, the collections have doubled due to various gifts and bequests. courtesy of Musée Marmottan Monet A donation in 1940 by Victorine Donop de Monchy brought Impressionism to the Marmottan with works by Morisot, Renoir, Sisley, and Monet’s Impression Sunrise, the work whose name baptized the Impressionist movement and the raison d’etre behind “Facing the Sun.” In 1966, Michel Monet, the painter’s last direct heir, bestowed the paintings he had inherited from his father to the Marmottan, making it the largest collection of Monet’s works. It’s known today as the Musée Marmottan Monet. This bourgeois mansion is abundantly decorated in a lush 19th-century style. Neo-classical figures flank the checkerboard marble floor. Through rooms and corridors painted in a blue spectrum ranging from subtle goose-egg blue, to Wedgwood, to rich teal, are decorative items including a spectacular golden dinner service. Many portraits dating from the Directoire period line the walls, as does a selection of deep-dives, lesser-known gems from the usual cast of Impressionists. Monet’s paintings of Giverny are found on the lower level; Berthe’s Morisot’s Impressionistic works are on the upper level atop a magnificent curved staircase.

Lead photo credit : "Impression, Sunrise," by Claude Monet, 1872, at the Marmottan-Monet Museum. Photo credit: Hazel Smith

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A freelance writer and amateur historian, Hazel knew she wanted to focus on the lives of French artists and femme fatales after an epiphany at the Musée d'Orsay. A life-long learner, she is a recent graduate of Art History from the University of Toronto. Now she is searching for a real-life art history mystery to solve.


  • Helen Anderson
    2022-12-05 06:56:39
    Helen Anderson
    How wonderful to view this on a winter day in Maine with a sky filled with clouds and specks of sun rays.


  • Beth Gersh-Nesic
    2022-11-16 05:11:47
    Beth Gersh-Nesic
    Magnifique, Hazel! I envy your trip to Paris - especially this destination. Thank you for sharing your impressions :) Your prose lifted my spirits to the sky. Merci beaucoup! Beth