Decorative Arts in Musée d’Orsay are some of the world’s finest decorative art collections from the 19th and 20th centuries.

By Harshitha Jagathiesh

Located in the city’s heart, the museum offers visitors a unique opportunity to explore and appreciate the beauty of the period’s furniture, art, and other artifacts.

From the intricate designs of Art Nouveau furniture to the bold shapes and colors of Art Deco, the museum provides an immersive experience of the period’s art and design.

Chaise 

Part of the decorative arts in Musée d’Orsay is the popular furniture item called the Chaise. 

The Henry Van de Velde Chaise is a masterpiece of furniture design and a noteworthy example of the Art Nouveau period. 

Created in 1863 – 1957 by renowned Belgian designer Henry Van de Velde, this chaise lounge combines craftsmanship and innovation. 

The chaise is crafted from oak, beech, and leather and features a graceful curved silhouette with an elegantly curved headrest. 

The intricate details of the Henry Van de Velde Chaise make it an iconic piece of Art Nouveau design and a must-see at the Musée d’Orsay.

Cheminée 

Adrian Dalpayrat’s chimney is a testament to the importance of the artist’s contribution to the development of architectural ceramics in the late 19th century. 

His use of oxblood glaze, is noteworthy a technique he mastered and makes the mantelpiece a unique and remarkable artistic achievement.

Dining Room Woodwork 

Alexandre Charpentier’s dining room woodwork at Musée d’Orsay is a testament to the incredible talent of this artist. 

This work of art is a testament to the incredible talent of this artist.

Adrien Bénard commissioned him for his villa in Champrosay.

Charpentier created a stunning decorative motif, transforming the columns into pillars clad in wood and adding climbing plants as the decorative elements. 

Bronze fittings and Bigot’s jardinière complete the look, creating an overall effect of striking beauty and originality. 

Charpentier’s skill and creativity make this dining room set one of the most accomplished decorative works of his carving.

Dressing table of the Duchess of Parma

The Dressing Table of the Duchess of Parma, made by the French furniture maker Francois-Desire Froment-Meurice in 1845, is currently on display at the Musée d’Orsay.

The Legitimist Ladies of France commissioned it on the occasion of the wedding of Louise-Marie-Thérèse de Bourbon.

This prestigious furniture was created to evoke a nostalgic and idealized version of the Middle Ages and celebrate traditional France and the bonds of marriage. 

The decorations on the table, jewelry boxes, and candelabras blend elements from Western and Eastern civilizations from the 12th century to the Second Empire. 

The portraits of twenty French women, such as Blanche of Castile and Joan of Arc, further emphasize the artistic value of this unique piece of furniture. 

This set is a testament to the eclecticism which was to dominate the decorative arts in the 19th century.

At the New Circus, Papa Chrysanthemum

At the Musée d’Orsay, one can admire the Papa Chrysanthemum stained glass window created by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec in 1895. 

Merchant Siegfried Bing commissioned Tiffany to produce this work for his L’Art Nouveau gallery in New York.

Jacques-Emile Blanche particularly praised the window, calling it “the most astonishing of these pieces.”

The stained glass window depicts a circus scene inspired by a performance of a Japanese-inspired ballet given in 1892 at the Nouveau Cirque in Paris. 

The composition and sinuousness of the window, accentuated by cloisonne, make it a representative piece of Art Nouveau’s ambitions.

Armchair 

The forms, colors, motifs and textures which characterize this armchair are in perfect harmony and are a beautiful illustration of Kinsarvik’s decorative art. 

The finesse of the sculpted elements, the play of colors and the richness of the motifs all combine to create a work of art that is both timeless and evocative.

Mysterious Grapes

Mysterious Grapes is a unique work of art that highlights the creative talents of Emile Gallé. 

This beautifully crafted glass object is considered a symbol of friendship between Gallé and Montesquiou. 

It is a testament to Gallé’s technical prowess, stylistic influences, and ability to suggest natural phenomena. 

It is a reminder of Gallé’s innovative use of materials and his dedication to craftsmanship.

Poppy Pencil and Watercolor

Emile Gallé is one of the most iconic figures of the French Art Nouveau movement. 

His work is mainly present in the collection of the Musée d’Orsay. 

This donation included over 1,500 drawings, photographs, and manuscripts, most unpublished. 

Among these works, the highlight is arguably the “Poppy” vase, created in 1902. 

This piece stands out for its organic and graceful design, with green and yellow poppies background. 

Gallé was a master of glass art, creating unique works that combined references to nature with delicate craftsmanship.


While touring Musée d’Orsay, here are some things to see around:


Decorative Arts in Musee d’Orsay – FAQ

1. What type of art can be found at the Musée d’Orsay?

The Musée d’Orsay in Paris primarily focuses on the art and culture of the 19th and early 20th centuries. 

The museum has an exceptional collection of paintings, including works by renowned Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artists.

The Musée d’Orsay houses an extensive collection of sculptures from the 19th and early 20th centuries. 

The museum exhibits a variety of decorative arts objects, including furniture, ceramics, glassware, and metalwork from the Art Nouveau and Art Deco periods. 

The Musée d’Orsay also features a significant collection of photography, documenting the development of the medium during the 19th and early 20th centuries.

2. What is the most famous piece in Musée d’Orsay?

The Musée d’Orsay houses numerous iconic and well-known artworks, making it difficult to single out just one as the most famous.

Few of the popular pieces include, 
Starry Night, by Vincent van Gogh
Olympia, by Édouard Manet
The Luncheon on the Grass, by Édouard Manet
– Bal du moulin de la Galette, by Pierre-Auguste Renoir
The Dance Class, by Edgar Degas

3. What is the Musée d’Orsay known for?

Musée d’Orsay known for an exceptional collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artworks. 

It houses iconic pieces by artists such as Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Vincent van Gogh, and Paul Cézanne.

4. What period and types of art can you find in the Musée d’Orsay?

The Musée d’Orsay primarily focuses on the art and culture of the 19th and early 20th centuries. 

It showcases works by prominent artists of the Impressionist movement, including Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, etc.

The Musée d’Orsay also features a significant collection of Post-Impressionist artworks by Vincent van Gogh, Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, and Georges Seurat. 

In addition to paintings, the Musée d’Orsay has an extensive collection of sculptures from the 19th and early 20th centuries.


For all visitors planning to visit Musee d’Orsay, here is a list of tickets you can choose from. 

Dedicated entry ticket: This ticket offers dedicated entry to the museum with access to permanent and temporary collections. 
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Guided tour ticket: Enjoy a 1 hour 45 minutes guided tour and skip the line access to Musee d’Orsay.
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Musee d’Orsay and Seine River Cruise: Visitors can tour the Musee d’Orsay and then experience a cruise over the Seine. 
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Musee d’Orsay and Louvre Museum: This combination ticket offers entry to both Musee d’Orsay and Louvre Museum.
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Paris City Museum Pass: Visit the best museums in Paris with just one pass.
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Featured Image: Smarthistory.org