13 Highlights of Musée d’Orsay

By Harshitha Jagathiesh

The Musée d’Orsay is one of the most important art galleries in the world, located in Paris, France. 

Musée d’Orsay is the visitors’ favorite museum, renowned for its Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masterpieces. 

The museum is home to works from some of the most iconic and influential artists of the 19th century, such as Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Vincent Van Gogh. 

In this article, we will look at some of the highlights of the Musée d’Orsay and a few iconic artworks at Musée d’Orsay.

1. The clock 

The huge Musée d’Orsay clock in the museum’s atrium is an instantly recognizable symbol of the building, installed at the beginning of the 20th century. 

It has an exquisite face and is made of gilded bronze, creating a stunning clockwork mechanism.

2. The Little dancer aged 14 

The Little dancer aged 14
Image: Wikipedia.org

One of the must-see masterpieces of Musée d’Orsay is the Little Dancer Aged 14 ,a sculpture by Edgar Degas. 

It depicts a young ballerina in a tutu, with a hair ribbon, ballet slippers and a simple bodice. It was made of wax and cloth and later cast in bronze. 

The sculpture is one of Degas’ most iconic works and a significant symbol of the Impressionist movement.

3. Van Gogh self-portrait

Van Gogh’s self-portrait is a famous painting crafted by the Dutch post-impressionist artist Vincent van Gogh in 1889. 

It is the only self-portrait that Van Gogh painted in his lifetime. 

The painting is noted for its strong symbolism and bold colors, as well as its self-referential depiction of the artist. 

4. Starry night 

Starry night
Image: Wikipedia.org

One of the most iconic highlights of Musée d’Orsay would be the original version of the iconic painting, Starry Night. 

Painted in June of 1888, this is arguably the most recognizable work of Van Gogh. 

It depicts a night scene with a large starry sky, a small village and the Rhone river. 

The painting has become a symbol of van Gogh’s genius and passion and is one of the world’s most beloved pieces of art.

5. Olympia 

Image: Wikipedia.org

One of the iconic artworks at Musée d’Orsay is Olympia, an oil painting created by French painter Edouard Manet. 

The painting depicts a nude prostitute reclining on a bed, attended by a maid. 

It is considered a masterpiece of Realism and a seminal work of the Impressionist movement.

6. Dance at Le moulin de la Galette

The Dance at Le Moulin de La Galette is an 1876 oil painting by French artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir. 

The painting depicts a typical Sunday afternoon at Moulin de la Galette in the district of Montmartre in Paris. 

It shows a joyous dance in full swing, with people of all ages taking part. 

The painting captures the vibrant atmosphere of the time, with its lively colors and lively characters.

7. Polar Bear 

Polar Bear
Image: Wikipedia.org

Among the highlights of Musée d’Orsay, one is the Polar Bear.

The Polar Bear is a white marble sculpture, created by Auguste Cain in 1867 and is one of the most famous sculptures in the museum. 

The sculpture depicts a polar bear standing on a rock, looking out over the city.

 It has become an iconic symbol of the museum and of Paris itself.

8. Banquette de Fumoir

Hector Guimard’s Art Nouveau style sought to unify architecture, furniture and decoration. 

He applied this in the Castel Béranger in Paris, which features an animated bench with a trunk-like foot and supple branches. 

The bench was meant to be placed in the corner of a room, with a showcase and shelf forming a roof.

9. Luncheon Grass

The list of iconic artworks at Musée d’Orsay includes the infamous Luncheon Grass.

Manet’s unconventional painting of a nude woman surrounded by men having a picnic in a forest caused a stir in 1863 and shot him to fame. 

His refusal to conform to the French Academy of Fine Arts tastes and his desire to paint everyday scenes and situations enabled him to create a new style of French painting.

The painting was entered into the Salon des Refuses, which allowed it to break barriers in Modern French painting. 

The 81.9 by 104-inch piece made a strong impression, leading to a newfound freedom and reinvention of pictorial space.

10. Poppy Field 

Poppy Field is an oil painting created by French Impressionist Claude Monet in 1873. 

The painting depicts a field of vibrant red poppies framed by a blue sky and lush green trees. 

It is one of Monet’s most famous works displayed in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. 

11. The Bedroom 

The Bedroom
Image: Wikipedia.org

Bedroom in Arles is an oil painting by Vincent van Gogh created in 1888. 

It depicts a bedroom in the yellow house that Van Gogh lived in for a while in Arles, France. 

The painting is notable for its bright, vibrant colors and expressive brushwork. 

It is considered an essential work of Van Gogh’s late period and a masterpiece of Post-Impressionism.

12. The Gare Saint Lazare

Among the iconic artworks at Musee d’Orsay is the Gare Saint Lazare.

Claude Monet, who lived between 1840 and 1926, left Argenteuil to settle in Paris and paint urban landscapes. 

He sought to diversify his sources of inspiration and asked permission to work in the Gare Saint-Lazare, which marked the boundary of the Nouvelle Athènes area. 

He painted a series of works featuring the vast hall, focusing on the effects of color and light rather than the details of machines or travelers. 

13. The Cradle 

The Cradle
Image: Wikimedia.org

The Cradle is Berth Morisot’s most famous work that features her sister watching over her daughter. 

It is an intimate and loving portrayal of motherhood, with a diagonal line linking the mother and child and the child’s gesture adding to the feeling of protection. 

The painting was first shown at the Impressionist Exhibition in 1874 but received little attention. 

It remained in the family until the Louvre bought it in 1930, after which it was moved to Musée d’Orsay.

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

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. 
Buy This Ticket | Learn More

Guided tour ticket: Enjoy a 1 hour 45 minutes guided tour and skip the line access to Musee d’Orsay.
Buy This Ticket | Learn More

Musee d’Orsay and Seine River Cruise: Visitors can tour the Musee d’Orsay and then experience a cruise over the Seine. 
Buy This Ticket | Learn More

Musee d’Orsay and Louvre Museum: This combination ticket offers entry to both Musee d’Orsay and Louvre Museum.
Buy This Ticket | Learn More

Paris City Museum Pass: Visit the best museums in Paris with just one pass.
Buy This Ticket | Learn More

Featured Image: Sedmak / Getty Images Pro

About the author

Harshitha’s heart lies where greeny mountains meet stretches of beach. She believes getting lost is the best way to explore