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Les Impressionnistes en Privé

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Why you will love it?

Most of the people wanting to see Impressionist masterpieces tend to go to the Musée d’Orsay, which indeed houses the biggest collection of Impressionist paintings. But it is surely not the only place. The Musée Marmottan-Monet, a smaller and more intimate museum, has the privilege of housing this year’s most incredible Impressionist exhibition. Les Impressionnistes en Privé is a first ever gathering of 100 masterpieces of rarely exposed Impressionist works coming from private collections worldwide.

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About this place

Musée Marmottan-Monet - 2 Rue Louis Bouilly, 75016 Paris
Line 9 - La Muette
Line C - Boulainvilliers

Wednesday : 10:00 am - 18:00 pm
more less
Monday : Closed Tuesday : 10:00 am - 18:00 pm Wednesday : 10:00 am - 18:00 pm Thursday : 10:00 am - 20:00 pm Friday : 10:00 am - 18:00 pm Saturday : 10:00 am - 18:00 pm Sunday : 10:00 am - 18:00 pm

Our Insiders' Article


The exhibition Les Impressionnistes en Privé (the Impressionists in private) is held at the Musée Marmottan-Monet  until July 16th 2014. This unique gathering of 100 impressionist paintings coming from private collections worldwide is a one and only chance to get to see rarely exposed masterpieces of the late 19th / early 20th centuries.

Parisianist Tip: to avoid long queues, book your ticket here. You might have to wait a bit if the museum is overcrowded though.


In order to fully understand the reason why this exhibition has been put together, it is important to retrace the history of Impressionism. It started off as a gathering of young painters that were rejected by the official authorities (whose tastes were the norm not to be messed with), who decided to expose their art in 1874. With the introduction of paint tubes, a revolution at that time, those artists (Monet, Pissarro, Degas, Sisley, Renoir…) took their material and started painting outside.  This first exhibition was laughed at by outraged visitors, yet they kept on painting with passion and eventually gained international notoriety a few years later.

Parisianist Fun Fact: Art critic Louis Leroy called these amateurs “impressionists”, using the word in Monet’s 1872 painting Impression, Soleil Levant (Impression, Sunrise). This pejorative word quickly became a reference in art history, thus overshadowing the initial term “outdoorism”.


In the 1870’s, although Impressionism was considered shocking and therefore overlooked by the masses, a few private collectors did support this new artistic wave.  Dr. Georges de Bellio, a friend and doctor of the early impressionist painters was among those early collectors. Although it originated from France, Impressionism started attracting international collectors, all passionate about this original way of painting light outdoors. Les Impressionnistes en Privé is a tribute to all those private collectors that believed and have shared the same passion as the artists themselves. 


The exhibition is divided into 6 themes, in a chronological order. It starts off with the origins of Impressionism, and retraces the evolution at specific stages: Impressionism around 1874 (the year of the first exhibition), Impressionism around 1880, a focus on Gustave Caillebotte, and on Edgar Degas. The exhibition ends with the evolution of impressionism at turn of the century.


After getting a glimpse of a small part of the permanent collection of the Musée Marmottan, a mansion (and a collection of Renaissance and Napoleon era art and furniture) offered by art historian Paul Marmottan in 1932 to the Fine Arts Academy, Les Impressionnistes en Privé exhibition starts with some pre-impressionist paintings from Jongkind, Corot and Boudin, where one can clearly see that the realism of a scene is slowly shifting towards a more abstract style.

Parisianist Fun Fact: Edouart Manet’s Un Bar aux Folies Bergère, painted in 1881, is one of his last. Manet was the true leader of the Impressionists, an influence for the younger generation. He sadly died in 1883 at age 51.


1874 marked the beginning of the “Impressionist Revolution”. Ignored by the art academy, many new generation painters got together and exhibited their paintings in photographer Nadar’s workshop (35 Boulevard des Capucines). Works by Pissarro, Sisley and Monet belong to the paintings around 1874.

Parisianist Fun Fact:  Alfred Sisley’s Paysage à Andrésy was painted in 1875. He set up his easel on a dirt road of this little town by the Seine River.  Although the activity on this road is captivating, it is the sky that takes most of the space on the canvas, a detail found in many of Sisley’s works as he was fascinated by the intense blue color and wispy clouds of summer skies.


The year 1880 marked another impressionist exhibition. In total, 8 impressionist exhibitions were held between 1874 and 1886, although internal strife appeared, eventually leading to the initial group’s separation.

Parisianist Fun Fact: In 1882, Monet had problems, both privately and financially (his art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel faced a crisis). To get away from it all, he focused his energy on painting landscapes of Pourville, such as Bord des Falaises à Pourville.


A small section of the exhibition is dedicated to Gustave Caillebotte (1848-1894), one of the leading impressionist painters, but also a passionate collector and organizer of the 1877, 1879, 1880 and 1882 impressionist exhibitions. His most famous painting is probably Les Raboteurs de Parquet (the floor scrapers) exposed in the Musée d’Orsay today.

Parisianist Fun Fact: Caillebotte’s Les Dahlias, Jardin du Petit-Gennevilliers, painted in 1893, represents the artist’s house in the town of Petit-Gennevilliers. The woman on the left is Caillebotte’s “good friend” Anne-Marie Hagen who was also depicted by Renoir in his painting entitled Madame Hagen.  Caillebotte is buried in the Père Lachaise cemetery (70th division)


Although Edgar Degas (1834-1917) is assimilated to the Impressionist movement from the very beginning, it is not because of his Impressionist painting technique (light effects painted outdoors), not applicable to Degas, but rather for the Impressionist philosophy, which is the total liberty to paint. Degas has an incredible photographic memory and painted mostly indoors. His works exhibited here are mostly charcoal or pastel works, such as Jacques de Nittis, Enfant, drawn between 1878 and 1880, and representing the son of Italian painter Guiseppe de Nittis. There is also one of Degas sculptures, La Petite Danseuse de Quatorze Ans (the little 14 year old dancer).

Parisianist Fun Fact: Degas is buried in the Montmartre Cemetary.


5 magnificent paintings of Jean-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) are aligned towards the end of the exhibition, including the famous Jeunes Filles au bord de la Mer, also used to illustrate the Les Impressionistes en Privé exhibition. It is believed he has worked on approximately 6,000 paintings. Although he was an integral part of the impressionist movement, he later leaned towards a more realistic painting. The paintings found here are followed by lithographies by Renoir at the end of the exhibition.


The exhibition ends with a big 200x200cm painting of Monet entitled Hémérocalles au Bord de l’Eau, painted between 1914 and 1917. This clearly marks the transition towards Postimpressionism as well as other artistic styles. You will have the pleasure to admire the works of Monet from the permanent Musée Marmottan-Monet collection on your way to the exit of the museum. These works include the Impression, Soleil Levant (which gave the name to the Impressionist movement) as well as the famous water lily paintings. The gift shop is located on the way out.

Parisianist Fun Fact: “Hémérocalles” are flowers originally from China.

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