Musée Marmottan

The Musée Marmottan is one of our favourite galleries in Paris and it’s always one of the places we try to visit when we’re in the city. So it was on the agenda during our recent holiday. No photos allowed inside, alas, so the examples in this post have been clipped from the web.

A little of the history of the Musée from their website

Former hunting lodge of Christophe Edmond Kellerman, Duke of Valmy, the Marmottan Monet Museum was bought in 1882 by Jules Marmottan. His son Paul settled in it, and had another hunting lodge built to house his private collection of art pieces and First Empire paintings.

Upon his death he bequeathed all his collections, his town house – which will become the Marmottan Monet Museum in 1934 – and the Boulogne Library’s historical rich historical archives to the French Academy of Fine Arts.

It’s much smaller than the massive Musée d’Orsay (a visit there is exhausting – there’s too much to see in a day) but has an excellent collection of Impressionist paintings featuring a number of major works by Monet, including several waterlilies and “Impression Sunrise” (Impression, soleil levant) the painting after which the Impressionist school was named.


Impression, soleil levant” by Claude Monet – Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Shortly after we’d visited the gallery for the first time the painting was stolen – on Oct. 27, 1985(it wasn’t us, honest!) – but was, thankfully, recovered five years later and so is back on display to been viewed and admired.

The Musée owns the largest collection of Monet’s works, including many from the later period of his life. It’s displayed in a room specially built for the purpose in the basement of the house.

They also own an excellent collection of paintings, drawings and sketchbooks by Berthe Morisot, a favourite artist of mine, bequeathed by her descendants. The paintings on display are rotated so I’ve seen different ones during our visits to the gallery. I don’t recall seeing the following picture, which I particularly liked, before.


Bergère couchée by Berthe Morisot (source Marmottan website)

As a woman, her opportunities for getting “out and about” were much more restricted than for her male contemporaries. She drew and painted what she experience during her daily life so many of her works were of domestic scenes and portraits in which she could use family and personal friends as models. In particular, her daughter Julie features in many paintings, which almost form a record of her growth and development from a child into a young woman.


Girl with Greyhound  (1893) by Berthe Morisot – Musée Marmottan. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

They also show temporary exhibitions. The current exhibition La Toilette et à La Naissance de l’Intime features paintings and some other works of women during the more intimate acts such as dressing, washing and other “bathroom” activities. Many of these works were clearly paintied for the “pleasure” of wealthy men in more repressed times. So in many ways it didn’t make comfortable viewing. Our time in the gallery was limited and I wanted to concentrate on the works by Morisot and Monet, so I didn’t spend very long in this exhibition.

The Marmottan is slightly off the beaten track in a well to do part of Paris not far from the Bois de Boulogne, but well worth the ride out on the Metro. We find that it takes a couple of hours to look through the permanent collection and there are not so many that you become overwhelmed meaning that you can spend time studying and contemplating the paintings.

2, rue Louis-Boilly, Paris

+ 01 44 96 50 33



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