Musée d’Orsay is housed in Gare d’Orsay, an old train station (and hotel) that served as the terminus for the Paris-Orleans Railway. Gare d’Orsay was the first electrified rail terminal in the world and opened just in time for the 1900 World Fair (Exposition Universelle). By 1939 the station’s platforms were too short to accommodate the the longer trains now used for long-distance travel; however, it was still used for some suburban trains. The hotel closed in 1973; the building was reopened in December 1986 as a museum, Musée d’Orsay. The building is beautiful, and after learning it’s story, I’m so happy that the French government decided to give it new life.
I’ve loved Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings since I was in elementary school. My elementary school P.E. coach, Georgia Moore, was passionate about art and literature, and all of her students benefited from her knowledge. I have vivid memories of our Friday Humanities classes (Humanities replaced P.E. on Fridays). I remember learning about Shakespeare, Matisse, and Van Gogh. I remember going home and telling my parents about The Starry Night — they bought me a framed copy of it shortly there after for getting all As on my report card. In addition to The Starry Night, I specifically remember learning about his sunflower paintings, Bedroom in Arles, and Self Portrait with Pipe and Straw Hat. At the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam I learned that he painted so many self-portraits because he wanted to practice painting people but couldn’t afford to pay people to model for him. His work didn’t become highly regarded until after his death.
I had never heard of Paris’ Musée d’Orsay, but upon finding out about their many Van Gogh paintings, I know that the Musée d’Orsay had to be part of our itinerary. We visited Musée d’Orsay on our second day in Paris, and the museum, as a whole, was fantastic. We got there right when the museum opened, so it wasn’t very crowded. I relished being able to examine the Van Goghs in near-solitude (much unlike when I saw The Starry Night at The Museum of Modern Art in New York City).
The photographs in this post were all taken at Musée d’Orsay. Someday I’ll have to write additional blog posts about the other Van Gogh paintings I’ve had the opportunity to see.
This self-portrait (below) is suspected to be Van Gogh’s last self-portrait. He painted it during September 1889 and gave it to his beloved brother, Theo. He died on July 29, 1890.