There is a “Secret Army” of reclusive Impressionist pieces cloistered in the private collections of the world, and this is a window of opportunity to see them gathered in one place before they’re scattered once again.
To mark its 80th anniversary, the Musée Marmottan Monet has unveiled works by Caillebotte, Monet, Pissarro, Renoir, Degas, Corot and Boudin, among others. These are not second-tier works; they are worthy of the best museums in the world but are rarely seen by the public. Viewing these pieces side-by-side, the choices of these artists become more evident and their departure from convention is rendered even more remarkable.
In fact, the Marmottan Monet is too rich to deserve just one visit. The size of the street facade of the former hunting lodge which houses the museum is misguiding, as you will discover when you enter a narrow gallery that opens on to the temporary exhibition and then leads down to the permanent spaces. This dazzling bunker houses the largest collection of Claude Monet in the world, including Impression, Sunrise, the painting which gave name to the Impressionist movement.
The bulk of Monet’s works shown here came from the artist’s own collection and were bequeathed by his son. It is worth taking your time or coming back to explore the rest of the rooms, with their incalculable treasures which include Napoleon’s heavy-set desk and a room dedicated to medieval illuminated liturgical manuscripts.
Until July 6, 2014. Musée Marmottan Monet, 2 Rue Louis Boilly, Paris 16th. Metro: La Muette. Daily 10 am-6 pm. Thursday until 8 pm. Closed Monday. Tel: +33 1 44 96 50 33. Ticket price is 10 euros.
Originally published in the April-May 2014 issue of France Today