Summer Art Exhibitions in Paris: What to See in the City

Summer Art Exhibitions in Paris: What to See in the City
It is summer in Paris and it is coming in with a vengeance. One great way to escape the heat is to spend a day at one of the many museums in Paris. Some are air-conditioned and a few even have the vents in the floors (which makes for a nice little cooling break when you stand over them). While the heat from the crowds will still rival even the best air conditioner, it is still a great way to find relief and take in amazing art at the same time. There are some fantastic exhibitions taking place this summer. One of the season’s most anticipated exhibits is one dedicated to Berthe Morisot, one of the only women painters of the French Impressionist movement. With her dark locks and stunning gaze, she was the perfect model for Édouard Manet and would model for some of his pieces. However, she became an artist in her own right, creating paintings that showed everyday family life– forging her own path in the male dominated Impressionists. As a young girl, Berthe and her sister Edma would visit the Louvre as young art students and spend their day copying paintings. Here they would also meet the great painters of the day, including Manet. Artist Henri Fantin-Latour took his friend Édouard Manet one day to the Louvre to meet Morisot who was copying a Rubens painting; it would be the start of a very long friendship. Following Manet’s shocking of the Parisian Salon with Olympia and Déjeuner sur l’herbe, he was looking for a new model, and Berthe would have everything he wanted. In 1868, Manet would paint The Balcony for which Berthe would pose after much apprehension. Being a model for an artist was not the profession for a woman of society in Paris at the time. Continuing to work with Manet for six years, he would capture her many times including his hauntingly beautiful painting, Berthe Morisot with a Bouquet of Violets that can be seen in the Musée d’Orsay. Theirs was a relationship built on great respect and love between two artists. In 1874, she would marry Édouard’s brother, Eugène Manet– a marriage that would give her the time to focus on her art. She painted the simple moments of a woman’s everyday life and those between a mother and child often outside under the trees or in an opened field. Her soft inviting images rivaled that of many of the men of the Impressionist movement. The exhibition of the Musée d’Orsay on view until 22 September is the first of its kind in Paris since the 1941 expo dedicated to Morisot. The exhibition includes pieces gathered from private collections, many of which have never been on view in France, alongside works gathered from many Paris museums. The granddaughter of Rococo artists Jean-Honoré Fragonard was fiercely independent for the day and through this exhibit, you will see how she broke the glass ceiling of the male dominated profession. To discover more of Berthe Morisot, visit the Musée Marmottan-Monet where you will find an entire room dedicated to her sketches, photos and paintings, including Manet’s Portrait of Berthe Morisot Reclining. The museum itself is a treasure and a must for any Impressionist lover; after all it holds the painting that named the movement. Also open in Paris until 21 July at the Musée Maillol is the collection of Emil Buhrle that includes many Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings including art by Manet, Pissaro, Monet, Degas, Sisley, Renoir, Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec and Cézanne. This will be the last time the collection is seen in Paris before it moves to its permanent location in Zurich; do not miss it. The first half of the 19th century in Paris was dominated by Romanticism– sweeping through the canvas, sheet music and in the pages of some of the most beloved French names. The Petit Palais and the Musée de la Vie Romantique are holding a joint exhibition focusing on the years following the fall of Napoleon in 1815 to 1848. The Palais des Tuileries may be nothing more than a memory today, but during these years, it was the residence of the Head of State and the site of the most glamorous parties. The Palais that was burned down is brought back to life in paintings and through the interior recreated from pieces that belonged to one of its most beloved figures, the Duchesse de Berry. If there is one thing that springs to mind when you think of the Romantique movement, it is the art by Eugène Delacroix. Along with fellow artists Théodore Géricault, Chassériau and Ingres, their grand paintings of scenes from history and from the pages of the great poets using color and light would have the Salon talking and inspiring artist for generations to come. In the middle of the Romantic Era, one author stood out above the rest, Victor Hugo. Featuring a hunchback that fell in love with a gypsy at Notre Dame de Paris, his 1831 book gave new life to the cathedral that had fallen in disrepair. The love story would reignite a fascination of the Middle ages, Gothic architecture and old Paris. His book became a bestseller again in 2019 following the fire at Notre Dame. Victor Hugo continues to spark interest through Esmeralda and Quasimodo all these years later. The exhibition continues at…

Lead photo credit : François-Louis Dejuinne's 1826 rendering of Juliette Récamier in her fourth-floor chambers at Abbaye-aux-Bois. Image credit © Public domain

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Claudine Hemingway had a deep love of Paris instilled in her at an early age from her beloved grandparents. Following in their footsteps, she is happiest strolling the historic cobblestones soaking in the architecture, art and history. Highly sought after to plan your Parisian adventure that ventures off the beaten path and digs deeper into the historic and secret Paris. Contact her at [email protected] to plan your trip. You can follow her adventure and daily Paris history lesson on Instagram @claudinebleublonderouge