When I visited Paris for the first time in 2000, Musée de l'Orangerie was closed for renovation, therefore I missed the chance to see the large assemble of Claude Monet's Les Nymphéas (Water Lilies). Eight years later, when I returned, I was delighted to bask in the glory in those two oval-shaped rooms, especially built to showcase this "series" Musée de l'Orangerie collected.
According to Wikipedia, "Water Lilies (or Nymphéas) is a series of approximately 250 oil paintings by French Impressionist Claude Monet (1840–1926). The paintings depict Monet's flower garden at Giverny and were the main focus of Monet's artistic production during the last thirty years of his life. Many of the works were painted while Monet suffered from cataracts."
"The paintings are on display at museums all over the world, including the Musée Marmottan Monet and the Musée d'Orsay in Paris, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, etc. During the 1920s, the state of France built a pair of oval rooms at the Musée de l'Orangerie as a permanent home for eight water lily murals by Monet. The exhibit opened to the public on 16 May 1927, a few months after Monet's death. Sixty water lily paintings from around the world were assembled for a special exhibition at the Musée de l'Orangerie in 1999."
To see those glorious canvases in those two large oval rooms were an incredible experience - one felt the light danced around the room, the scent permeated in the air, the dark water absorbed all the toils and worries in the world, and gave back calm and comfort.
The mastery of Monet was astonishing - he didn't just created an atmosphere or brandishing his virtuosity - he created a world breathed and signed, full of life. His brushstrokes were broad and sure, though highly suggestive, with the aid of viewers' eyes, all the details were present and palpable. I felt that I was indeed immersed in the whispering pond.
Les Nymphéas, Claude Monet, Musée de l'Orangerie, Paris
There were many other works collected by the museum, besides the Les Nymphéas. I particularly loved a small piece by Maurice Utrillo, La Maison de Berlioz, which depicted a lone and lonely white-washed house, with deceptively plain surface which was actually full of textural details, amidst sparsely leaved young trees. Very simple yet enchantingly if one could bear the intense melancholic undertone.
La Maison de Berlioz, 1824, Maurice Utrillo