Musée d’Orsay sculptures

By Harshitha Jagathiesh

The Musée d’Orsay, Paris is the most famous museum known for its collection of French Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and Art Nouveau masterpieces. 

When entering the Musée d’Orsay, visitors first notice the splendid collection of sculptures filling the main hall, once a historic railway station. 

Musée d’Orsay sculptures include an exclusive collection of sculptures by famous artists like Auguste Rodin, Edgar Degas, Aristide Maillol and Pierre-August Renoir. 

Some of the notable sculptures on display at the Musée d’Orsay include:

  • The Thinker
  • The Little Dancer of fourteen years
  • The Age of Bronze 
  • La Danse
  • The Gates of Hell

Best Musee d’Orsay Sculptures

Musée d’Orsay Sculptures is a huge collection of 2,200 sculptures done by various artists. 

Some of the best Musée d’Orsay sculptures are listed in this article.

La Danse – Carpeaux

Considered one of the most important modernist artworks, “La Danse” is a sculpture made by French artist Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux. 

In 1863, Charles Garnier the architect of the Paris Opera hired Carpeaux to decorate the facade of the building under the theme dance. 

Over years Carpeaux produced a sculpture of turning farandole of women around the spirit of dance. 

It is one of the most important artworks, notable for its expressive, abstract form that depicts human figures. 

Liberty – Bartholdi 

A proud part of the Musée d’Orsay sculptures collection is a miniature version of Lady Liberty.

The Statue of Liberty is a gift from the French people to Americans on the occasion of American Independence in 1876. 

Created by the French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, the Statue of Liberty is one of the most famous and significant statues. 

A smaller copy of the masterpiece was acquired from the artist to display in the Musée du Luxembourg in Paris. 

Later the statue was shifted to Luxembourg Gardens and then to Musée d’Orsay. 

Ugolin – Carpeaux

Inspired by the Divine Comedy by Dante, Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux carved a masterpiece for the ninth circle of Hell. 

Of all the Musée d’Orsay sculptures, the Ugolin leaves a permanent mark on your memory!

This sculpture expresses sumptuous brutality before the irreparable moment of Ugolin eating his kids due to starvation in jail. 

Viewers get a clear view of the contrasting animality of Ugolin and the children’s innocence from the sculpture. 

Hercules the archer – Bourdelle

Antoin Bourdelle, initially an assistant in the famous Rodin’s Studio produced the masterpiece – Hercules the Archer. 

The figure denotes power and energy with reference to primitive Greek sculpture and Roman art. 

This sculpture portrays the victory over the monsters ad high spirited inspiration of Hercules. 

Walking Panther – Bugatti 

Rembrandt Bugatti, the son of Italian furniture designer Carlo Bugatti and brother of car manufacturer Ettore Bugatti turned to animal sculpture at an early age. 

Buggati sculpted from pets to exotic mammals, birds and reptiles.

The Walking Panther is one of his significant artworks and is part of the Musée d’Orsay sculptures collection. 

He designed the Walking Panther to portray his lively art style.

The Four Parts of the World Supporting the Celestial Sphere – Carpeaux

Garbriel Davious, architect of Paris city assigned Jean Baptiste Carpeaux the task to design a sculpture.

It was designed to top a fountain between the Paris Observatory and Luxembourg Gardens. 

The sculpture represents the four continents as females who twist to represent the rotation of the earth. 

The sculpture has four females – Africa, Asia, Europe and America in a clockwise direction who support the celestial sphere. 

This is one of the main art pieces in Musee d’Orsay.

Small Dancer Aged Fourteen – Degas

Designed by Edgar Degas, The Small Dancer Aged Fourteen is the most famous sculpture and the highlight of Musee d’Orsay. 

Musée d’Orsay sculptures are wild, but the Small Dancer Aged Fourteen is an extreme case of hyperreal art!

Made with natural colors, real hair, a tutu and a real dancing slipper, this sculpture is the best example of hyperrealism and verism in its extreme. 

Degas mastered the art of realism through wax and clay sculptures which were then made into a bronze edition after his death.  

Woman with Lilies – Muncha 

Designed by Alphonse Mucha, The Woman with Lillies depicts a woman standing in a field filled with lilies, wearing a crown of lilies and holding the same. 

The Woman with Lilies was a collaboration between Mucha and Seysses to produce the most realistic sculpture. 

The Gates of Hell – Rodin

The Gates of Hell is one of the oldest Musee d’Orsay sculptures. 

Sculpted by Rodin, there are large groups and figures on the gate inspired by Inferno by Dante. 

The Gates of Hell wins its reputation due to the most delicate details, an impressive portrayal of emotions and a colossal size of six meters.


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


Musee d’Orsay Sculptures – FAQs

1. What is the name of the sculptures at Musée d’Orsay?

Musée d’Orsay sculptures are a vast collection of sculptures from all over the world, done by artists with varied styles!

Here are a few famous Musée d’Orsay sculptures:
– The Thinker
– The Little Dancer of fourteen years
– The Age of Bronze 
– La Danse
– The Gates of Hell

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

Of all the Musée d’Orsay sculptures, the most famous sculpture would be too hard to pinpoint. 

La Danse, by French artist Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, is considered one of the most important works in sculpture!

3. How many sculptures are there in Musée d’Orsay?

Musee d’Orsay houses over 2,200 sculptures.

This includes a collection by various artists like Alfred Barye, Jules Cavelier, Jean-Baptise Carpeaux, Auguste Rodin and more.

4. What are the sculptures in Musée d’Orsay?

The Thinker (Le Penseur) by Auguste Rodin is positioned in the garden before the Musée d’Orsay. 

The Four Times of Day by Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux can be seen on the façade of the museum facing the Seine River.

The Young Girl and the Death (La Jeune Fille et la Mort) by Pierre-Félix Masseau are positioned near the museum entrance.

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: News.artnet.com

Harshita
About the author

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