In this virtual museum visit, I’m taking you to the Impressionists collection at Musée d’Orsay. You’ll learn more about that style, meet some of the most famous representatives and will see their paintings.

Musée d’Orsay is one of the most famous museums in Paris. And a place where you can see one of the best collections of Impressionist paintings in the world. From the beginnings of the style, through the different genres Impressionist painters choose, to an influence to the later generations of artists. You’ll get an excellent overview of one of the first modern art styles there.

Impressionists at Musée d’Orsay

Would you like to virtually visit a collection of Impressionists at Musée d’Orsay in Paris? And learn more about this painting style?

Then keep on reading!

Musée d’Orsay

Located in the former train station, Musée d’Orsay is a relatively new museum in Paris. It was opened in 1986 and it’s home to an amazing collection of western art created between 1848 and 1914.

Besides the fantastic collection of the Impressionist paintings at Musée d’Orsay, you can also visit a great selection of Barbizon school, work of Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin. This is also where a famous Edouard Manet’s ‘The luncheon on the grass’ is.

However, let me show you more of the Impressionists at Musée d’Orsay.

Read more about the best museums in Paris in my blog post here


Impressionist painting

Collection of the Impressionists at Musée d’Orsay is a great place to learn about that style. You can see very well how it developed, who were the most important Impressionist painters and see some of their most famous paintings.

But, what was so innovative about the Impressionism?

Well, in the mid-19th century, a group of young artists came up with some new ideas about art. They didn’t want to follow the old-schooled academic way of painting anymore.

Painting outside

They started to gather, talk about art and go on the little trips together. They were mostly visiting a small village of Barbizon, near Fontainebleau forest, just outside of Paris. And they started to paint in nature.

Read more about Impressionists in Paris in my blog post here

Painting the landscapes, outside, in the open air, was something truly revolutionary at that time.

Before that time, painters would only make little sketches outside. But, they would finish their paintings in their studios. However, Impressionist painters are changing that, and are creating their paintings in nature.

Landscapes, as an independent subject on the paintings, were quite rare before that time. They would be a nice addition, a background on the picture. But rarely the main theme.

Since they were painting outside, they started noticing how the light and colours are changing throughout the day. The water of the river or the grass on a meadow would have different shades in the morning, around the noon and later in the afternoon. They started focusing on that light and its reflections on their paintings.

Impressionist’s subjects

On the majority of Impressionists paintings at Musée d’Orsay you can see landscapes and the modern society of that time. They were sharing the same ideas about art. But, each Impressionist painter could develop their own style and choose whichever subject they wanted. That’s why you’ll notice that Claude Monet was focusing on landscapes and nature. Edgar Degas mostly painted dancers and cafe scenes.  Pierre-Auguste Renoir loved painting nudes and portraits, while Paul Cézanne mostly created still lives.

Today, Impressionism is considered to be the first modern style. And there were a few scientific discoveries and social developments that made that happened.

1/ The tube paint

One of the reasons painters could go outside and paint in the open air was the invention of the tube paint. It was easy for Impressionist painters to bring their painting material with them and paint outside their studios. Many of them were using pure colours straight from the tube, so they could paint quickly. And capture all the changes in light throughout the day.

2/ Invention of camera

Development of photography made the progress of Impressionism possible. Once a camera was invented there was no need for the academic realism in art anymore. It was hard to compete with the realism of camera. That’s why painters started to focus on colours, light and reflections on their paintings more.

3/ Middle class & outdoor leisure activities

In the second half of the 19th century, the middle class is becoming a more significant part of French society. They made outdoor leisure activities more popular. And Impressionist painters found a perfect subject for their paintings in them.

Claude Monet at Musée d’Orsay

Impressionist collection at Musée d’Orsay is also a place where you can see many paintings by, probably the most famous among them, Claude Monet. In his paintings, he’s mostly focusing on water and clouds. He manages to capture so well the Impressionist ideas in them.

He was always painting outside, very quickly, with visible brushstrokes. Since he is using pure colours, his paintings are vivid and bright. To capture the southern light, Monet, in his own words, dreamed about:

A palette of diamonds and precious stones.

A visit to Impressionists in Musée d’Orsay is an excellent opportunity to see some of the most amazing paintings created by those painters. Hope this virtual museum visit will help you feel at least a bit of its atmosphere.

Would you like to see some of my previous virtual museum visits? Check them out on the links below: