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See Van Gogh, Mondrian, Monet & Pollock in Paris this Spring

2 May 2019

Dutch Artists in Paris & Abstract Expressionists Indebted to Monet! 

This February, Paris kick-starts an eclectic art calendar for 2018 when Petit Palais unveil their Dutch Artists in Paris exhibition - as you trace the steps of van Gogh, van Dongen, Jongkind, Mondrian, and their famous French contemporaries. Then in April, all eyes turn to Musée de l’Orangerie and Monet’s Water Lilies, as they are displayed alongside the Abstract Expressionists whom they so greatly inspired! Both of which await your discovery during a five-star stay at Hotel Balzac, situated mere minutes from either gallery in the epicentre of cultural Paris.

Dutch Artists in Paris: 1789-1914

6th February 2018 – 13th May 2018

Petit Palais

Ever since the culture-freeing frenzy of the French Revolution, artists from all corners of the globe have found a home in Paris. But no influx of expatriate painters has quite rivalled the period between 1850 and 1914, when thousands of Dutch artists picked up their paintbrushes and departed for the enlightened shores of Paris.

The 19th century in particular was an era of renewed approaches to politics, science and the arts; and by 1850 this cultural melting-pot was obligingly bubbling away, threatening to spill its invaluable contents onto all those who wished to indulge in the city.

Among the first in queue were the Dutch, with Jongkind, Breitner and a certain Vincent van Gogh all living, working and falling in love with Paris before the turn of the century. Followed shortly after by van Dongen and Mondrian, as they joined the avant-garde ranks which would go on to revolutionise art in the next one hundred years.

Now for the first time, you can trace the steps of these influential figures, as they take you on a journey through their Paris - guiding you through the boulevards, salons, studios and cafés where they flourished. But more crucially, you can view the artists alongside their French contemporaries from whom they learnt so much, and in return, taught so much.

The most startling comparisons arrive with Jongkind, who unbeknown to most, educated Boudin, Sisley and the master of light himself, Claude Monet, in the art of capturing light on canvas. Likewise, French Impressionists would greatly effect Breitner, as seen in his Ballet Dancer (1886) - one such canvas which would inspire fellow countrymen like Isaac Israëls to start painting ballerinas, in-turn fuelling the beginnings of Amsterdam Impressionism.

Which leads us on to Vincent van Gogh; who after settling in Paris, gained exposure to Pissarro, Monet, Bernard and Cézanne, thus driving his decision to adopt a more vibrant palette and differing techniques. But, it was his relationship with Gauguin which proved to be the biggest catalyst in the rise of Postimpressionism - until van Gogh shattered said relationship after chasing Gauguin with a knife, of course.

But were it not for their joint jaunt to Arles, van Dongen, Matisse and Mondrian may have travelled a more arduous road en route to their respective forays into Fauvism and Abstraction; which would ultimately pave the way for Modern Art as we know it today.

The Water Lilies: American Abstract Art and the Last Monet

13th April 2018 – 20th August 2018

Musée de l’Orangerie

After Claude Monet had inspired contemporaries with his fathering of French Impressionism in the latter-half of the 19th century, little did he know that thirty years after his death in 1926, he would motivate an altogether different movement across the (lily) pond in Manhattan, New York.

Throughout his life, the artist painted prolifically, revolutionising art in his light-laden series’ of the Rouen Cathedral, Giverny Haystacks and London Landscapes. But nothing captured Monet’s imagination more than his beloved Water Lilies, variations of which, he would paint over 250 times.

Surprisingly however, while today just one of Monet’s Nymphéas will fetch millions at auction; after the artist’s death, hundreds of the oil canvases sat collecting dust in his Giverny studio, where they would remain in relative obscurity for the best part of thirty years. That was until the grand decorations began attracting the attention of collectors and museums. Including Alfred Barr, who acquired one of the colossal canvases for New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1955.

It was at MoMA where comparisons were first made between Monet, and the American Abstract Expressionists who were setting the art world alight. Among them a one Jackson Pollock, whose Autumn Rhythm (Number 30, 1950) unveiled uncanny resemblances between the two paintings (to the trained eye at least). Nonetheless, it is this marriage of Monet and Pollock which spearheads Musée de l’Orangerie’s exhibition, reinforced by some twenty major paintings from his Abstract Expressionist stablemates.

Interestingly, it is in these supporting canvases where more striking comparisons can be made - more blatantly in Frankenthaler’s Basque Beach (1958) and Joan Mitchell’s en plain air painting, Linden Tree (1978). But also in the sparse lines and serrated shapes of Clyfford Still and maybe even in the drips and splatters of Sam Francis - are those psychedelic lilies?

However, if you really want to lose yourself in the limitlessness, colour and depths of Abstract Art, simply dive into one of Monet’s Water Lilies!

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