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Why Paris Art Museums showcase the BEST Impressionism artworks in the world!

Paris now Celebrates it’s Rich Impressionism Past

Paris is the city where the impressionism movement emerged. Today the French capital houses the world’s finest collections of their beautiful and colorful paintings. If you are interested in art history or simply love the Impressionists, then below is a list of the best Paris Art Museums showcasing their artworks. Read on for more details. 

Montmartre - The Artistic Hub of Paris
Montmartre – The Artistic Hub of Paris – Painting by Maurice Utrillo [Public Domain]

The Beginnings of Impressionism

In the late 19th century, a new artistic movement emerged, breaking away from the dark, religious, classical art of the time. These avant-garde artists moved to Paris and shared their new artistic ideas. They began painting outdoors, rather than inside painting studios. They wanted to capture what they saw, and experiment with the changing light and colors.

These revolutionary artists used coarse brushstrokes, bright colors, painted everyday scenes and ordinary people. Their artworks seemed to only give an impression of the subject matter, hence they were termed the Impressionists! These determined artists turned the conservative art establishment upside-down with their bold new approach to painting.

Claude Monet Impressionism Landscape
Claude Monet Impressionism Landscape [Public Domain]

19th Century Paris Scorned & Rejected the Impressionists

The Paris Salon, the art critics and art establishment scorned the colorful artworks of the impressionists. They rejected their paintings and refused to show them in the prestigious Paris Salon exhibitions. The art world considered their paintings radical, shocking and unfinished works of art. For a long time, hardly anyone bought their paintings!

However, these revolutionary artists believed in their new ideas and continued painting, even though most of them could barely make a living.  

Alfred Sisley painting - The Island of Grande Jatte
The Impressionist Alfred Sisley died penniless

Who were the Impressionism Painters?

These innovators of modern art and the Impressionism art movement included Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Berthe Morisot, Mary Cassatt, Edgar Degas, Alfred Sisley, Edouard Manet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Gustave Caillebotte & others.  

Today, the Impressionists are one of the most beloved of all the art movements. Sadly and ironically, many of these painters died penniless. Today however, their artworks are worth millions.

The Incredible Musee D’Orsay

If you love modern art and Impressionism in particular, then Musee D’Orsay should be the first museum you visit when in Paris. This magnificent museum was once a former railway station. It is a gorgeous building.

Musee D'Orsay - the largest of the Impressionism Art Museums in Paris
Musee D’Orsay – the largest of the Impressionism Paris Art Museums

Musee D’Orsay showcases the largest and most comprehensive collection of Impressionist paintings, drawings, and sculptures in the world.  Although much smaller than the monstrous Louvre, Musee D’Orsay is still a HUGE museum!

The permanent impressionism collection here is magnificent. Here you will find all the great masters including Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Delacroix, Gauguin, Morisot, Caillebotte & more. It also showcases the artworks of the post-impressionists, such as Van Gogh.

This museum is very popular and very busy. Press here to read my tips for navigating this amazing museum.

For more details about current exhibitions, ticket prices and opening times, press here.

Musee Marmottan Monet

This small and unassuming museum is often overlooked by the famous and busy Musee D’Orsay. However, if you are a Claude Monet fan, then this museum should not be missed! Musee Marmottan Monet houses the largest Claude Monet collection in the world.

This is one of the lesser known of the Paris Art Museums. It is located outside of the central tourist sites and therefore never crowded like the Musée D’Orsay and Louvre. The museum is not large, however it has an impressive collection of paintings by Manet, Morisot, Degas, Renoir, Gauguin, Matisse & the other impressionists.

The Claude Monet and Berthe Morisot collections are incredible. Check it out for yourself.

For more information, press here

Musee Marmottan Monet
Musee Marmottan Monet / Photo by D Smith (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Le Petit Palais

Le Petit Palais is one of the free Paris Art Museums. It is another museum that often gets overlooked by the tourists. However for those who love the Impressionists, this museum is a must visit.

There is a modest but significant permanent collection of paintings by Delacroix, Ingres, Cézanne, Courbet, Sisley, Monet and Pissarro. The museum is also housed in a stunning Belle-Epoque building that was erected especially for the Universal Exposition of 1900.

For more information regarding current exhibitions, times and tickets, press here.

Petit Palais Paris Art Museum
Belle-Epoque Building of the Petit Palais / Photo by Derek D (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Musée Orangerie

Another beautiful Paris art museum on the list for lovers of Impressionism art is Musee Orangerie. This stunning but small museum is located on the grounds of the former royal Orangery at the Tuileries Gardens.

After World War One ended, Claude Monet was asked to paint pictures that would give a message of hope to the people. Claude Monet painted for this important commission the huge Water-Lily Series, also called “Nympheas”. Monet’s water-lily pond in his home garden in Giverny inspired these iconic masterpieces.

Come here on a quiet day, sit and take in the magnificent Water Lily panels, that Claude Monet painted for this museum.

The oval room in Musee Orangerie
Musee Orangerie / Photo by fmpgoh (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

This lovely museum also showcases artworks of other impressionists and the post-impressionists such as Cézanne, Matisse, Modigliani, Picasso & others.

Post-impressionists paintings at the Musee Orangerie
Musee Orangerie / Photo by Adrian Scottow (CC BY-SA 2.0)

For more details about opening times, ticket prices, current exhibitions and how to get there, press here.

To help you plan your trip, below are some more articles about additional Paris art museums: