Museum with world's largest collection of Monet paintings relaunches to celebrate 80th anniversary

The best kept secret in Paris wants to be secret no longer

Paris

The Musée Marmottan-Monet, one of the unmissable artistic jewels of the French capital, is frequently missed by visitors and ignored by culture-sated Parisians.

And yet the private museum on the western edge of Paris has the world’s largest collection of paintings by Claude Monet, including “Impression, sunrise”, the canvas which gave The Impressionists their name.

To celebrate its 80th anniversary, the museum will try to relaunch itself this week as an artistic destination in its own right, alongside its bigger, noisier sisters the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay or the Centre George Pompidou. The museum has assembled a startlingly beautiful, temporary exhibition of 115 Impressionist paintings from private collections around the world, in many cases unseen by the public for decades.

The Musée Marmottan has also completed an ambitious programme of renovation to give more space and a better display to its permanent collections, including 100 paintings, and 140 works in total, by Claude Monet.

The man behind the project to re-launch the Musée Marmottan is its new director, Patrick de Carolis, 60, once head of France’s state-owned television service and a presenter of a successful French TV series on cultural heritage.

“Many of our paintings are well known but the museum is less well known,” Mr de Carolis told The Independent. “We have to change that. We are private and entirely funded by the money we earn for ourselves. We hope that the exhibition, which starts this week will encourage people to come to the Marmottan.”

“We will also be advertising on television and in the cinema for the first time.” 

 From Thursday until 6 July, the Musée Marmottan-Monet will host “Les Impressionistes en Privé” (The Impressionists in Private), one of the largest ever exhibitions of privately-owned works by Impressionist and pre-Impressionist artists. The Independent was given a sneak preview on Monday.

Monets and Pissarros, still out of their frames, were propped up in corners or placed on tables waiting to take their places in the exhibition. Even unfinished, the show was a self-evident winner. It is likely to be one of the most talked about, and visited, cultural events in Paris this year.

Marianne Mathieu, deputy director of the Marmottan and joint curator of the exhibition, said: “Almost all of these paintings have rarely, if ever, been seen in public for many decades. They come from 51 private collections, half of them in France, half in the rest of the world - in the United States or Britain or Belgium or Mexico.”

“We have tried to give a spread of works which illustrate the most important stages in the development of Impressionism.”

The exhibition includes a painting by the pre-impressionist artist Eugène Boudin - “Benerville la Plage” – which comes from a private collection in California. It has not been seen in public since the 1930s. There is also a Monet - “Sur les planches de Trouville” - which has only been seen once in public for more than a century.

The Petit salon in the Musée Marmottan Monet The Petit salon in the Musée Marmottan Monet (Musée Marmottan Monet) There are also paintings by, amongst others, Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley and Berthe Morisot (who is represented at the Marmottan by a large permanent collection, which has just moved into spacious new rooms). The ownership of the paintings on loan is, in many cases, secret.

“The Marmottan is entirely founded on bequests from private collections, including many paintings given by Claude Monet’s son Michel,” Mr de Carolis said. “We intend this exhibition to be, in part, a celebration of the importance, and the influence and the passion of the private collector.”

He also plans to make the Marmottan part of a global network of private museums, which will loan each other works and share exhibitions. The museum is already working on an exhibition, to start on 18 September, which will celebrate the 170 birthday of its most famous, permanent resident, Monet’s “Impression, sunrise.”

Vue de Bazincourt by Camille Pissarro Vue de Bazincourt by Camille Pissarro The canvas, first sold in 1874, portrays a glowing, misty sky over an industrial skyline in Le Havre. At various points, Monet described it as a “sunset”; at other times a “sunrise”. The location is believed to have been destroyed when the RAF bombed Le Havre in 1944.

So what was the scene which defined Impressionism? Morning or evening? The Marmottan will begin detective-work in Le Havre this week to try to answer the question once and for all.

Does it also need careful detective-work to find the Musee Marmottan? Not at all.

The museum is a former hunting lodge on the fringes of the Bois de Boulogne, rebuilt as a mansion in the late 19th century. It stands beside the Ranelagh gardens in the upmarket 16 arrondissement, five minutes’ walk from La Muette Metro station on line nine, only a few stops from the Champs Elysées.

In the celebrated words of the Michelin Guide, it is “worth a detour”.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

music
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

music
Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

art
Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Arts and Entertainment
James singer Tim Booth
latitude 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Lee says: 'I never, ever set out to offend, but it can be an accidental by-product'
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe judges were wowed by the actress' individual cooking style
Arts and Entertainment
Nicholas says that he still feels lucky to be able to do what he loves, but that there is much about being in a band he hates
musicThere is much about being in a band that he hates, but his debut album is suffused with regret
Arts and Entertainment
The singer, who herself is openly bisexual, praised the 19-year-old sportsman before launching into a tirade about the upcoming Winter Olympics

books
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Cryer and Ashton Kutcher in the eleventh season of Two and a Half Men

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

    A land of the outright bizarre
    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
    Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

    The worst kept secret in cinema

    A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
    Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
    Why do we have blood types?

    Are you my type?

    All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
    Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

    Honesty box hotels

    Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

    Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

    The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn