I made only a brief visit to Musée d’Orsay, the former train station that houses a magnificent collection of art from 1848 through 1914. I’ve spent a good deal of time at d’Orsay in the past, though, and I had a crowded schedule. Had I but world enough, and time….
(Besides, d’Orsay has one of the world’s greatest assemblages of Impressionist art, and, where there’s Impressionist art, you always risk Renoir-induced nausea. As a staunch supporter of the #RenoirSucksAtPainting grassroots movement for Cultural Justice, I avoid Renoir’s treacly hackery as best I can.)
There was one section of one special exhibition that I wanted to see: The exhibit was Le Douanier Rousseau, and the section was the Jungle pictures. (Rousseau was a toll collector, and “Le Douanier” means “the customs officer.” Rousseau was treated with contempt during his lifetime, and calling him “Le Douanier Rousseau” was turn-of-the-(20th)-century snark.)
As for the exhibition…. Well…. Let’s just say that his early work is not to my taste.
But the Jungle paintings! You can get lost in their green foliage.
One of the key things to know about the paintings is that Rousseau never left France and never saw a jungle. His primary inspiration came from the Jardin des Plantes, the botanical gardens. “When I go into the glass houses and I see the strange plants of exotic lands, it seems to me that I enter into a dream.”
Here’s a good documentary on Rousseau’s life and work: