Orsay’s art history crash course on social media

1200px Musée D'orsay, North West View, Paris 7e 140402

During lockdown and until the museum reopens its doors to the public on June 22nd — after 13 weeks of closure — the Musée d’Orsay is asking one famous artist per week to select one art piece a day from within its extensive collection of impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces, and offer their vision and intimate insights in the official Instagram account of the Museum.

For the past 11th week, Christodoulos Panayiotou, the Cypriot visual artist, started the week with Eva Gonzalès, A Box at the Théâtre des Italiens (1874), then explored Édouard Manet’s Lemon (1880) and William Bouguereau, Dante and Virgil (1850) among other masterpieces.

Follow the Musée d’Orsay on Instagram for your daily dose of art history: https://www.instagram.com/museeorsay/

In order to perfect your knowledge of the different artistic movements of the period 1848-1914 represented in the museum’s collection, the Musée d’Orsay also put together a series of very short films about Academism, Realism, Orientalism, Impressionism, etc. Today, we dive in Japonism, with James Abbott McNeill Whistler: Variations in Purple and Green (1871):

Whistler was one of the most sensitive interpreters of the fashion for the arts of the Far East which spread through Europe from the 1860s. This painting marks the apogee of Whistler’s Japanese period. He has literally transposed the banks of the Thames into the pictorial world of Japanese prints, with the power of evocation rather to description.

References are legion: vertical format which cleverly uses the void evoked by the milky river to the fluid treatment and use of subtly graded tones. The signature inserted in a cartouche and the frame designed by the artist complete his decorative, deeply original aesthetic project.

This example shows the extent to which landscape painting, rethought by Whistler to Japanese standards, counted in the development of Impressionism and its exaltation of atmospheric effects.

Discover 10 artistic movements for free on the YouTube channel of the Orsay Museum: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLwUa6C-N-kpYbb7UQf8aMIirVsFxjzA0

The Orsay Museum last came to the National Museum of Singapore in 2011-2012 with an exhibition entitled “Dreams & Reality: Masterpieces of Painting, Drawing & Photography of the Musee d’Orsay”. The exhibition gave Singapore residents a rare opportunity to discover over 140 salon, realist, impressionist and post-impressionist works from great painters such as Gustave Courbet, Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, Paul Cezanne and Edgar Degas.

Orsay came once again in 2017-2018 with the exhibition “Colours of Impressionism: Masterpieces from the Musée d’Orsay”, this time at the National Gallery. The exhibition featured over 60 masterpieces, including key works by Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, Edouard Manet, Camille Pissarro and Paul Cézanne, and told the story of impressionism through the colours they used at different stages in their careers.

William Bouguereau (1825-1905), Dante and Virgil (1850). Oil on Canvas. © Musée d’Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt