Located in a 19th-century mansion, the Musée Marmottan Monet museum is not only one of my favourite museums in Paris, but one of my favourite museums in the whole entire world. As well as Monet, it is also a fabulous collection of Impressionist paintings, that ranks second only behind the Musée d’Orsay, and is also the home to some of the most influential works by Claude Monet you will ever find.
Claude Monet (14 November 1840 – 5 December 1926) was the leader of the French Impressionist movement and the painting Sunrise, that literally gave the movement its name, can be found here at Musée Marmottan Monet. Monet, his life story, and his work as an inspirational artist, talent and personality have all inspired me deeply throughout my life, and I became enchanted with his work from as young as I can remember including a spellbinding visit to Giverny as a child.
Monet’s greatest passion was painting in the open air and capturing natural light and this technique made his work truly groundbreaking for the time. Moreover, Monet was masterful as a colourist and his reputation for a painter of light and atmosphere is deeply evident throughout the collections that can be found here, through to his later work that often achieved a remarkable degree of abstraction. Throughout his career, this trajectory and style made him one of the leading inspirations to subsequent generations of abstract painters that would follow.
“It’s on the strength of observation and reflection that one finds a way. So we must dig and delve unceasingly”
― Claude Monet
Whilst this museum is now dedicated to the work of Claude Monet, this building was once a hunting lodge owned by Christophe Edmond Kellerman who was the Duke of Valmy. The building was later purchased by Jules Marmottan back in 1882, however, it was his son Paul Marmottan who resided in it, who had another hunting lodge constructed so that he could house his private collection of artworks.
The museum first opened to the public in 1934, and in 1957 there was a substantial donation received from Madame Victorine Donop de Monchy, which she had inherited from her father. In 1966, Michel Monet, the son of Claude Monet, then donated his property in Giverny along with his collection of paintings he had inherited from his father to the Musee Marmottan Monet, which is how this museum now has the largest collection of Claude Monet paintings in the world.
“Everyday I discover more and more beautiful things. It’s enough to drive one mad. I have such a desire to do everything, my head is bursting with it”
― Claude Monet
The museum is two different worlds and that’s what makes it so special. As you first enter, you walk into the stunning old mansion, with beautiful artwork by Renoir, Gauguin, Sisley and Morisot surrounding you on walls of turquoise and soft pastels with glistening chandeliers. It feels like you’re walking in someone’s home, perhaps an art dealer of the time, and makes for a truly unique, intimate art experience.
Paul Marmottan was dedicated and passionate about the First Empire, and as a result, numerous items on display from this period including paintings, engravings, sculptures, furniture, miniatures, and porcelain. The Paul Marmottan dining room, that can be seen above, is an example of his passions and is one of the most prestigious room in this mansion in Rue Boilly. With its rich opulent and yet modest space, it is decorated with furniture in precious wood, with a crystal chandelier and rich gilt bronzes that surrounds the Impressionist masters.
“The richness I achieve comes from nature, the source of my inspiration”
― Claude Monet
The second part of the museum is a temporary exhibition that always blends Impressionism with other periods and artists. Currently showing is the exhibition called, “L’Orient des peintres, du rêve à la lumière” (Oriental Visions from dreams into light) that is captivating.
Then, downstairs, and below the Orient exhibition, is ‘the Monet basement’ where Michel Monet, Claude’s second son, and only heir, bequeathed the works he inherited from his father to this museum. The impressive and deeply moving collection features over 300 works by Monet in a beautiful display that will take your breath away.
Works to be found include the iconic Impression, Sunrise, and some hundred masterpieces such as landscapes around Argenteuil, Rouen cathedral, a unique ensemble of water-lilies and views of the garden in Giverny. Each and every single piece of work offers an unmatched panorama of work by the leading figure of Impressionism and to view them in this small intimate space is a truly beautiful overwhelming spectacle to witness for both art lovers or for anyone who wants to be enchanted by Monet’s secret garden!
Of all the paintings on display, it could be argued that Impression, Sunrise is the most famous as both a unique piece and as a painting that is one of the most significant works of art history. In fact, some could say it made art history as we know it. Monet originally named the painting Marina but changed the title to Impression, Sunrise for the 1874 Exhibition catalogue listing. Once called an abstract piece of unfinished work by critics, over one-hundred years later, Monet’s work Impression, Sunrise is part of a historic art movement, and Monet helped to make a name for the Impressionistic artists as well.
Of course, the richest collection of Monet in the world offers far more than just one painting, and if you’re anything like me, you will be deeply enchanted by the entire collection where you can get a closer look at each and every brushwork for a longer period than at any of the bigger museums due to its intimacy.
“Impression — I was certain of it. I was just telling myself that, since I was impressed, there had to be some impression in it … and what freedom, what ease of workmanship! Wallpaper in its embryonic state is more finished than that seascape”
― Claude Monet
Has anyone had the pleasure of visiting the Marmottan museum? If not, and you’re planning a visit to Paris, I truly hope it will bestow a unique charm on that you will forever remember.
Whilst the museum is a bit off the beaten path, located in the 16th, and away from the other well-known art museums, I truly think it is worth it. The history of Impressionism is so linked to France and of course Paris. Here there are few crowds, no queues, and it is such a delight to view these spectacular works in peace and quiet and at one’s leisure and to truly savour their beauty like Monet would want.
The museum itself is very special, the basement of Monet’s work is displayed beautifully, and it’s just amazing to be surrounded by so many paintings by a master. To a lover of Monet’s work or Impressionism, it’s quite simply a paradise.
In terms of getting here, I always use the metro stop La Muette that serves line 9 and then enjoy the short walk through the charming gardens. However, if you are travelling by train, then there are two RER train stations within walking distance being the Gare d’Avenue Henri Martin and the Gare de Boulainvilliers, both serving the RER C Line.
“Water Lilies’ is an extension of my life. Without the water the lilies cannot live, as I am without art”
― Claude Monet
2 Rue Louis Boilly, 75016 Paris, France
+33 1 44 96 50 33
OPEN FROM TUESDAY TO SUNDAY FROM 10AM TO 6PM
LAST ENTRANCE: 5:30 PM
NIGHTLY THURSDAY THROUGH 9PM
LAST ENTRANCE: 8:30 pm