Paris’ Most Iconic Artworks
What: Les Nymphéas
Where: Musée de l'Orangerie
Not got time to schlep it up to Giverny? Then swan into this staggering series of light-flooded, white oval rooms to drink in the full wonder of Claude Monet’s Les Nymphéas (Water Lilies). Originally a shelter for the Tuileries’ orange trees, Musée de l'Orangerie was repurposed in 1922 by the visually-impaired artist himself to house eight of these epic wide-angle views of his garden. Donated to the government as his bequest to the nation, these breathtaking canvasses were aimed at inspiring healing after the horrors of WWI.
What: Nu dans le Bain
Where: Musée d'Art Moderne
A somewhat saucy insight into post-Impressionist Pierre Bonnard’s home life in Le Cannet, this warm, languorous, iridescent painting of his wife Marthe in the bath perfectly illustrates his bold, new-found marriage of colour, light and composition. Ogle Nu dans le Bain in the Musée d'Art Moderne, part of the cool confines of the lesser-mobbed Palais de Tokyo.
Where: Centre Pompidou
The original “but is it art?”, Marcel Duchamp’s humourous Fontaine sits proudly encased and spotlighted in the mod-bod Pompidou Centre. The controversy-courting porcelain urinal was arguably the first ever piece of conceptual art, seen as Duchamp’s way of challenging the accepted link between the labour and supposed ‘merit’ of a work. Whatever you might think of it, there’s no denying its importance today, having inspired countless contempo names from Grayson Perry to Damien Hirst.
What: Le Baiser
Where: Musée Rodin
A romantic trip to Paris would not be complete without a peaceful hand-in-hand wander through the luscious gardens and C.18th manse of Musée Rodin, hosting sculptor Auguste Rodin’s most significant creation The Kiss (as well as The Thinker). Known in French as Le Baiser, this 1882 marble marvel captures the moment Italian noblewoman Francesca da Rimini embraces her husband's younger brother Paolo in Dante’s Inferno. Needless to say, the story did not end well for the star-crossed lovers, but the statue remains gloriously luminescent and mesmeric.
What: Mona Lisa
In need of no introduction, this enigmatic lady is not only one of the most contested paintings of all time, but also the most coveted. You’ll need to brave the selfie stick-wielding hordes at the Louvre for even a faraway glimpse of this deceptively compact canvas, but hey, at least you’ve ticked the box.