I’m off to Paris for a few days next month and regular readers will be unsurprised to learn that I’m counting down the days in a thrill of anticipation.
One of my must-do activities this time is make a return trip to the Musée Marmottan, a relatively undiscovered gem in the 16th arrondissement. Not only is this gorgeous museum free of the crowds which can hamper a visit to its better known city-centre counterparts, but its current exhibition is the first major retrospective for over 50 years of one of the founders (and only female member) of the Impressionists.
Berthe Morisot was hailed by critics as one of Impressionism’s most innovative painters and the Musée Marmottan holds the largest public collection of her drawings and paintings as well as her correspondence and sketchbooks.
The Musée Marmottan was once a hunting lodge, originally owned by the duc de Valmy. Bought in 1882 by Jules Marmottan, it was transformed into a private house by his son Paul who was an art collector with a particular interest in the Napoleonic era. On the latter’s death the collection was bequeathed to the Academie des Beaux Arts for the creation of a museum.
The museum became inextricably linked with the Impressionists in 1957 when the art collection of Dr George de Bellio, a homoeopathic doctor whose patients had included Monet, Manet, Sisley and Renoir was bequeathed to the Marmottan. Included in this collection was the painting credited with starting the Impressionist movement: Monet’s Impression: Sunrise.
Michel Monet, one of Claude Monet’s sons bequeathed works inherited from his father, which gave the Museum one of the most significant collections in the world of Claude Monet’s paintings.
Further bequests and donations have followed since the Museum’s creation in 1934 and the Musée Marmottan is now considered one of the world’s greatest museums of Impressionist art.
I’ve long admired Berthe Morisot’s work, but also her success in blending her roles as mother and society wife with her artistic career (at a time when female painters were not admitted to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts) to become one of Impressionism’s leading exponents.
The tranquil space of the Musée Marmottan will be the perfect place to reflect on both her art and her achievements.
Musée Marmottan 2 rue Louis-Boilly, 16th arrt. Métro: La Muette
Opening hours: Daily: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Tuesdays until 8 p.m. Closed on Mondays, January 1st, May 1st, and December 25th.
The exhibition ‘Berthe Morisot’ runs until July 1 2012.