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  • Writer's pictureAnthony King

La Gare Saint-Lazare by Claude Monet, 1877, Musée d'Orsay, Paris – Analysis – Podcast

Updated: May 13

Today’s podcast was recorded live inside the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, France.

You can listen to it by pressing “play” on the above video and watching the slideshow

The subject is a series of paintings by Claude Monet and specifically a version called “La Gare Saint-Lazare” (“The Saint-Lazare Station”).

It’s a beautiful painting and differs from my favourite version which is located in London at the National Gallery. The National Gallery version is much darker and quite a lot smaller.

Monet painted 12 in this series and it’s my understanding that 4 still survive today (However, who really knows?).

I have located a version in a 1970’s art book which is held in a private collection in the United States and we will take a closer look at this, as best as we can, in a future part of this podcast series.

The most famous, or at least, for me, the most famous and one that I visit at least a few times a month is called "The Gare St-Lazare", In fact they’re all basically the same station during different seasons and on different days, all with totally different energy, different feel and different aesthetics.

I also visited the station itself and recorded a podcast their so that we can compare and contrast how the station looks around 150 years after Monet painted it. I can say that on visiting the station I felt that I knew it and had been there before, and that is thanks to Monet’s talent and magical ability to capture the essence of a space and put it on canvass. This is part 1 of a 4 part series of Monet’s paintings of this station.

Claude Monet was born in 1840 and died in 1926, and needs no introduction! He painted in France and moved to Paris to paint this station, specifically from Argenteuil. Before this he had painted landscapes and nature and wanted to turn his brush to capturing the city.

He asked the station master for permission to paint the trains and the station. The story goes that the station master didn’t know who he was (as he wasn’t so famous at the time) and was impressed by his confidence and just assumed he was very famous! He also helped by putting on a good display by billowing the smoke and showing off the new machinery and mechanics of the modern cutting edge, at the time, station. He would have had such a surprise when he discovered that Monet basically ignored the lot! Monet painted what the eye actually saw, which is not detail. He captured the light and the shade and the spirit of the place which evokes more in the imagination than any photograph, in my opinion.

Claude Monet painting at the Musee d Orsay “La Gare Saint-Lazare” is a bright painting compared to some of the others, it has light colours and blues and whites – we really see the smoke.

He also painted the girders magnificently, specifically not painting them fully but only partly, as not to imbalance the painting. I think that is great word to describe his paintings – perfectly “balanced”.

He painted this plein air, meaning it was at the location under the station canopy. The station, "Gare Saint-Lazare", opened on the 24th August 1837 and is is one of the 6 large terminus railway stations in Paris. Nearly 300,000 passengers travel through the station every day and it is the second busiest of Paris (after "Gare du Nord").

The station was designed by the architect Juste Lisch.

The area is very close to a metro station (and area) called “Europe“. The roads are named after European capitals and the area is full of musical shops including violin makers, cello makers as well as book shops. I don’t think it has changed that much at all!

However, we’ll visit the area and look into more details in a future podcast in this series.

I hope you enjoy the painting as much as I do!

THE LOCATION: La Gare Saint-Lazare by Claude Monet at the Musée d’Orsay

After the COVID restrictions have been lifted and it is is safe to do so, if you are passing by or looking for interesting things to do in Paris, why not take a look? This is a must!

Musée d’Orsay

62, rue de Lille

75343 Paris

(Entrance: 1, rue de la Légion d’Honneur, 75007 Paris.)

Official opening times and information:

“open from 9.30am to 6pm

daily, except Mondays

late night on Thursdays until 9.45pm

last tickets sold at 5pm (9pm Thursdays)

museum cleared at 5.15pm (9.15pm Thursdays)

group visits, pre-booked only, Tuesday to Saturday, 9.30am to 4pm (Thursdays until 8pm). Closed on Mondays, on 1 May and 25 December”

Nearest Metro and transport: Metro: line 12, to Solférino

RER: line C, to Musée d’Orsay

Bus: 24, 63, 68, 69, 73, 83, 84, 94

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By Anthony King (c)


*Except exterior museum shot by Pierre Blaché from Paris, France, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

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