Last Updated on January 31, 2024
Is it possible to leisurely enjoy priceless Monet paintings in Paris without a crowd? Believe it or not, it is at the Musée Marmottan Monet.
Musée Marmottan Monet may be overshadowed by better-known museums in Paris such as Musée d’Orsay, but it’s the place to go if you want to see the world’s largest collection of Claude Monet masterpieces.
I found out about the Musée Marmottan Monet by chance.
At a wedding in Paris, I saw a video of the museum. I couldn’t believe it… so many Monet paintings… and so few people. I decided that I definitely had to go, but the only time I had left was a small window before going to the airport.
The Paris Monet Museum
Musée Marmottan Monet is located in the 16tharrondissement of Paris. The museum is a 19th-century mansion, once the home of Paul Marmottan, a wealthy art collector and historian.
In 1932, he left his house and its Empire-era decorative arts to the Académie des Beaux-Arts, the French Academy of Fine Arts, for the museum-going public to enjoy.
The Monet Collection
In 1940, Musée Marmottan received its first gift of Impressionist masters. Victorine de Monchy, whose father had been a supporter and doctor to the famous painters, donated 11 paintings from his collection, among them Monet’s famous Impression, Soleil Levant (Impression, Sunrise).
Impression, Soleil Levant helped launch the Impressionist movement. When the painting was first shown, a critic ridiculed the exhibit saying the pieces didn’t look like finished works of art, but rather like incomplete “impressions,” latching on to the title of Monet’s painting.
The name Impressionism stuck.
The bulk of the museum’s Impressionist masterworks came from Michel Monet, the artist’s son and heir. When Michel died in 1966, he bequeathed his father’s art and the home at Giverny to the Marmottan.
Thanks to this inheritance, the museum houses paintings spanning Monet’s life, from his earlier works capturing modern Paris, like Gare Saint-Lazare (Saint-Lazare Train Station) and his Les Nymphéas (Water Lilies) inspired by his garden at Giverny, to his later pieces, such as Le Pont Japonais (Japanese Bridge) painted when he struggled with cataracts.
Along with holding more Monets than any other museum, the Marmottan has the world’s leading collection of Morisot masterworks. Though Berthe Morisot was one of the founding members of the Impressionist movement, relatively few Morisot paintings can be found in museums. Her descendants, however, gifted 100 paintings to the Marmottan that trace the development of her work as an artist, including Bergère Couchée (Shepherdess Lying Down) and Au Bord du Lac (On the Lakeside).
Rounding out the Impressionist works at the museum are canvases by Degas, Caillebotte, Pissarro, Sisley, and Renior – including a Renoir painting of Victorine de Monchy Portrait de Mademoiselle Victorine de Bellio (Portrait of Miss Victorine de Bellio), the person who gave life to the Impressionist collection at Marmottan.
The Marmottan Experience
I only had about 45 minutes at the museum before rushing to my flight! The greeters suggested, “Start downstairs with Monet. Then, go upstairs to Morisot.”
Off I sped.
Descending the last stairs, I gasped.
Les Nymphéas (Water Lilies) took my breath away. A deep, evocative shade of blue filled this magnificent water lily canvas. The moody bluish-purple stirred the depths of my being. I sat on the bench mesmerized, moved by the amazing power of art.
Dismissing my ticking clock, I leisurely lingered, communing with the paintings. And to think I had them all to myself.
I realized I must have come in through the exit as I traced the artist’s works in reverse. Seeing Les Tuileries (The Tuileries) transported me back to the Paris gardens I’d sat in the day before.
Then, there it was.
Impression, Soleil Levant (Impression, Sunrise) – a dreamy gray-blue haze of night mixing with the orange-yolk-colored rising sun.
The other Impressionists called, so I flew up the stairs to the Berthe Morisot exhibit.
Here, in pastel tones, Morisot gave me a peek into what it was like to be a woman in the 19th century. She showed me scenes of women working together in Le Cerisier (The Cherry Tree), of children in Enfants à la Vasque (Children at the Basin), and of her husband with their child Eugène Manet et sa fille dans le Jardin de Bougival (Eugène Manet with his Daughter in the Bougival Garden). Morisot invited me into these intimate family moments, and I wholeheartedly accepted her invitation.
Not wanting to miss my flight, I somehow managed to tear myself away, but not before saying goodbye to Morisot Portrait de Berthe Morisot étendue (Portrait of Berthe Morisot Outstretched) by Édouard Manet. The confidence in her eyes told me we needed to get to know each other better.
With that, I promised to come back to this remarkable place.
Visiting the Monet Museum in Paris
How to Get to Musée Marmottan Monet
Address: 2, rue Louis-Boilly, 75016 Paris – France
Phone: + 33 (0)1 44 96 50 33
Line 9, stop: La Muette or Ranelagh
Line C, stop: Boulainvilliers
Line 22, stop: La Muette–Boulainvilliers
Line 32, stop: Louis Boilly or Ranelagh
Line 52, stop: La Muette–Boulainvilliers
Line 63, stop: Porte de la Muette
Line 70, stop: Louis-Boilly
Line P.C. 1, stop: Ernest Hebert or Porte de Passy
Vinci Park Passy (78, rue de Passy, 75016 Paris)
14 Euro for general admission adults
Open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm (last admissions: 5 pm)
Late nights: Thursday, to 9 pm (last admission: 8 pm)
Closed Mondays, 1 May, 25 December, and 1 January