This in-depth 3 hour walk takes in the rich post-19th century collections of the D'Orsay Museum. You will begin your walk with a discussion of the history and structure of the building, first constructed as a rail station by architect Victor Laloux for the 1900 World's Fair. After serving as a rail station for only 39 years (as electricity grew in popularity and trains became longer, the D'Orsay station's short platforms were rendered unusable), the station was preserved as a historical building in the late 70s, and opened as a museum in 1986.While the D'Orsay's collection includes all varieties of artwork produced from 1848 to 1914, our walk will concentrate primarily on painting.
Following a roughly chronological trajectory, you'll begin on the ground floor with the works of the Barbizon school and Corot. With their emphasis on the elements of nature and atmosphere, the Naturalists' work marked a major break with previous schools of academic painting which taught the need to anchor its subjects in classicism and antiquity. From here, we'll move on to the Realists who flourished under the 2nd Republic. Stopping by the works of Courbet's 'Artist's Studio' and Manet's 'Olympia,' we'll discuss the new techniques and ideas that Realism introduced to the visual arts, and their influence on the future Impressionists.The middle level of the museum houses the art from the turn of the century, both French and international. We'll see the works of Klimt and Munch, as well as the rooms holding pastels of Millet, Manet, Redon, and Degas.
Finally, we'll move upstairs to the third floor of the building, which holds the big-name artists of the post-1800s. Beginning with Manet's 'Dejeuner sur l'Herbe' and Whistler's 'Portrait of the Artist's Mother' to the Impressionist works of Monet, Renoir, Degas, and Pisaro, we'll discuss the spread of Impressionism and its radical departure from traditional schools of painting. Continuing on to the likes of Cezanne and Van Gogh, we'll discover how early Impressionism influenced all subsequent artists, and itself gradually morphed into a number of different movements such as Neoimpressionism, Fauvism, and Pointillism, and Cubism. We'll wrap up with these later movements, precursors to Modernism, among them Matisse, Braque, and Gauguin.