Every time I go to Paris it is cold, windy, rainy and gray (or grey, for the occasional Brit who drops by). Nothing could be more miserable.
And yet I keep going back for more.
We thought we could outwit Paris and her rain this Saturday by going to a museum. We thought we could further outwit Paris by avoiding the Louvre, instead opting for a smaller museum. We chose the Musee de L’Orangerie. When we arrived, the line of umbrellas stretched way past the entrance. Paris wins again.
The Musee de L’Orangerie houses paintings by Cezanne, Renoir, Rousseau, Modigliani, Matisse, Picasso, Derain, Soutine and Utrillo; there was also a temporary exhibit by Chaim Soutine. However it is most famous for being the home of Monet’s Water Lilies, 8 enormous paintings depicting the lake and waterlilies at different times of day.
The visit simply served to prove the old adage “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, as my mom, Vlad and I continually differed about which painter and style was the most beautiful, talented, etc. But basically, all you need to know is that Monet conquers all. The moment I laid eyes on the first Monet painting downstairs, all the other paintings looked amateur.
Nothing except seeing it for yourself can capture the amazing clarity and skill of his technique.
After this tiny foretaste of Monet, we moved upstairs to be blown away by his Water Lilies, a culmination of his entire life work.
There were 2 rooms that size, with 4 paintings each. The first room was dedicated to water lilies and the second, above, focused on willow trees. They were breathtaking, nothing can capture the sense of wonder you feel standing in front of one of these 8 panels.
Now, because it’s Paris, we were nowhere near finished being amazed for the day. Later in the afternoon, quite unplanned, we ran into Eglise de la Madeleine.
La Madeleine, named after Mary Magdalene, was erected by Napoleon as a monument to the glory of his army. After the fall of Napoleon, King Louis XVIII transformed it into a church.
Napoleon is still a dominant figure in the building.
The design of the building is certainly glorious; one can easily imagine the places occupied by Biblical figures having been intended for statues of Napoleon and his generals. (Or perhaps multiple statues of only Napoleon.)
So that was my Saturday. If only every Saturday could be filled with as much beauty!