There are so many museums in and around Paris it’s hard to know where to begin. Rather than fight the lines at the Louvre, we chose to visit the more manageable and far less crowded Musee d’Orsay, which features many impressionist paintings paintings. During our trip, we also visited Claude Monet’s home and garden in Giverny, about an hour outside of Paris. Honestly, I enjoyed the two hours I spent in Giverny more than my time in the gardens at Versailles.
Even after 100 years, Impressionist paintings have a freshness and vitality that so many, myself included, find inspirational. There is something about these paintings and the work of the Symbolists that resonates deeply with our modern world view.
For me, Impressionism and the work of modern poets like Mary Oliver in her poem Wild Geese, convey passion and a celebration of life in all its immediacy, without the moral and cultural chauvinism of so many older works. One painting that is representative of this chauvinism the 1670 painting of Louis and his family by Jean Nocret, which I had seen a week before at Versailles. Louis had instructed Nocret to paint him as Apollo to reinforce his self-image as the God’s representative on earth bringing heat, light and illumination to the world. Yuck ! Such BS. Unfortunately, I’ve heard it rumored that our current president is considering a similar rendition for his official portrait.