The musée de l’Orangerie has not always featured works of art. Indeed, it was built in 1852 in order to shelter during the winter the orange trees decorating the garden of the Tuileries Palace. The orange trees had previously been tucked under the grand gallery of the Louvre.
Installed in an old orangerie
Home to many impressionist and post-impressionist paintings from the 19th and early 20th century, the Musée de l’Orangerie is located in the Tuileries Garden, a stone’s throw from Place de la Concorde. It presents the famous works of Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Amedeo Modigliani, but also Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and many other artists of this period. The name is not misleading, the Musée de l’Orangerie is indeed installed in an old orangery, built in 1852 to shelter the tangy citrus fruits of the Tuileries garden in winter. Like all orangeries, the stone building was therefore designed in length, and was glazed on the Seine side (to the south) and walled on the garden side (to the north) in order to retain the heat of the building as much as possible. Its rather classic and understated decor blends in perfectly with the neighborhood that surrounds it.
Claude Monet and his waterlillies
Transformed from the end of the 19th century until the beginning of the 20th century into a warehouse, accommodation for soldiers, then a place for various events (sporting, musical, horticultural and even patriotic), the old orangery finally fell into the hands of the administration of the Beaux-Arts in 1921. The latter has very fine plans for the orangery since it wishes to house an annex to the Luxembourg Museum, which at the time was the current National Museum of Modern Art. Thanks to Georges Clemenceau, a French statesman, Claude Monet will be able to install his large set of water lilies there. The impressionist painter fitted out the interior himself. His canvases were installed just after his death in 1927, in two large oval rooms. In 1984, the collection of the two great collectors Jean Walter and Paul Guillaume was transferred to the State. It contains 144 paintings: Cézanne, Renoir, Matisse, Picasso, Soutine, Modigliani…
A tribute to painters
From 2000 to 2006, works made it possible to enlarge the Musée de l’Orangerie and to renovate the spaces, giving more light through large bay windows. In 2019, the rooms of the collection are redesigned to better pay tribute to the two men who are the « fathers » of the museum: Claude Monet and Paul Guillaume.