The Musée d'Orsay
by Alexandra Bonfante-Warren

A photographic tour of one of the world's great art museums
see also: The Louvre

The Musée d'Orsay, housed in the old Gare d'Orsay railway station and hotel building which was saved from destruction in 1970 by a combination of timely publicity, ideality of location (opposite the Musée du Louvre), and architectural innovation, contains one of the most magnificent and extensive collections of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century art in the world.

The quality and variety of works in the Musée d'Orsay--limited to the years between 1848 and 1914--is quite unique. Though the most well-known and probably best-loved painting style of the nineteenth century is Impressionism, in fact a great diversity of art can be attributed to this era. The distinctive tone of the museum's remarkable collection comes, in part, from this medley of works and styles, culled from the galleries and storage rooms of various other French museums, specifically the Louvre, the Jeu de Paume, and the Musée d'Art Moderne. The Musée d'Orsay combines a thoughtful text that traces the roots of the collection through the context of the contemporary society and creative activity happening at that time with 300 colorplates of many of the museum's greatest masterpieces: Academic works by Ingres, Couture, Bouguereau, and Delacroix; Impressionist and Post-Impressionist favorites by Monet, Renoir, Cassatt, Van Gogh, Seurat, Signac; Realist, Nabis, Symbolist and Fauvist works by Millet, Denis, Gauguin, Redon, and Matisse; sculpture by Degas, Rodin, and Camille Claudel.

Here are also works in other media, not in the national collections but acquired specifically to complete the museum's multi-disciplinary view of the arts during these years--furniture, objets d'art, architecture, photography, for example--everything on display in these areas has been acquired since the museum's formation. Jewelry and glassware by Art Nouveau artist René Lalique, photographic prints by Nadar, Lewis Carroll and Atget, and the architecture of the ninteenth century, evoked by the restoration of various elements of the former railway station itself, are but a few of the museum's other myriad attractions. The masterpieces viewed in this volume magnificently convey the ambitious nature of this comprehensive and singular collection.

9 5/8 x 13 in., 320 pages
ISBN: 0-88363-502-X
$75.00 U.S.

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