The Gustave Moreau Museum (in French, Musée Gustave Moreau) is an art museum located in the 9th arrondissement of Paris, an area of great cultural interest. By the way, the museum itself is housed in the former home and studio of the French painter Gustave Moreau!
The ground floor of the Gustave Moreau Museum displays works from different periods of his career, while the first floor corresponds to the apartment where the artist lived with his parents. The second and third floors of the building are his studio, where you can admire his most renowned works!
So, do you want to know more about the Gustave Moreau Museum: Best Tips For Visiting In 2023? Keep reading!
No time to read now? Pin it for later!
- Brief History of the Gustave Moreau Museum
- How to Get to the Gustave Moreau Museum
- What to See at the Gustave Moreau Museum
- More Posts about France
- More Posts about Museum Guides
- What Photography Gear Do I Use?
Brief History of the Gustave Moreau Museum
Unlike the vast majority of museums, the Gustave Moreau Museum was carefully thought out by the man who gave it its name. Influenced by successive losses of loved ones, Gustave Moreau idealized a place where he could perpetuate his life and work in the 1860s.
Acquired by Louis and Pauline Moreau in 1852, number 14 on Rue Catherine de la Rochefoucauld was rehabilitated as a house-museum in 1895 by the architect Albert Lafon, at the request of Gustave Moreau himself. And that’s how his more than 14,000 works (drawings, paintings, watercolors, prints, sculptures, etc.) found a permanent home!
On September 10th, 1897, less than a year before his death, Gustave Moreau bequeathed the building and all its contents to the French State. And in 1903, the new monument and institution opened its doors to the public as the Gustave Moreau National Museum!
How to Get to the Gustave Moreau Museum
The Gustave Moreau Museum is located at 14 Rue Catherine de la Rochefoucauld, a street named after a French nun and abbess. And from here, you’re close to other points of interest, such as the Museum of Romantic Life (450 meters), the Great Synagogue of Paris (450 meters), the Palais Garnier (1 km), and the Grévin Museum (1. 2 km).
Due to its excellent location in the 9th arrondissement of Paris, the Gustave Moreau Museum is served by several types of public transport: metro (line 2, Pigalle station; or 12, Trinité – d’Estienne d’Orves or Saint-Georges stations) and bus (lines 26 or 43, Trinité stop; or 40 or 74, Saint-Georges stop).
Opening Hours & Ticket Prices
The Gustave Moreau Museum is open from Wednesday to Monday, from 10 am to 6 pm, with the rooms closing 15 minutes earlier. In addition to Mondays, the Gustave Moreau Museum is closed on the holidays of January 1st, May 1st, and December 25th.
TIP: In the eight days following your visit, you’re entitled to a reduced fare ticket to the Orsay Museum, Museum of Romantic Life, Guimet Museum, Jean-Jacques Henner Museum, and Palais Garnier, if you show your Gustave Moreau Museum ticket (and vice versa)!
As far as tickets are concerned, they cost €7 (standard fare) or €5 (reduced fare), while children under 18 and under 26 residing in the European Union don’t pay admission. But you can consult all the practical information on the official website of the Gustave Moreau Museum!
TIP: On the first Sunday of the month, admission to the Gustave Moreau Museum is free for everyone – but don’t forget to book your ticket in advance!
What to See at the Gustave Moreau Museum
“The Pretenders” (in French, “Les Prétendants”) is an oil painting on canvas, which Gustave Moreau began in 1852, but which he never completed. All that is known is that the painting acquired its current dimension in 1882 when the artist added strips of canvas, still visible today!
Over three meters wide and long, “The Pretenders” is one of Gustave Moreau’s most monumental works and one of the most impressive paintings in the Gustave Moreau Museum. And the painting is a faithful image of Book XXII of the “Odyssey”, the epic poem by Homer!
“The Chimeras” (in French, “Les Chimères” is an oil painting on canvas, which Gustave Moreau signed in 1884. And like “The Pretenders”, this large painting – more than two meters wide and in length – was never finished.
“The Chimeras” is inspired by “Crocifissione e apoteosi dei diecimila martiri del monte Ararat” by Vittore Carpaccio, on display at the Gallerie dell’Accademia, in Venice. Interestingly, the work looks more like a medieval tapestry than a painting, due to the use of muted tones and refined design!
“Jupiter et Sémélé”
“Jupiter and Semele” (in French, “Jupiter et Sémélé”) is an oil painting on canvas, commissioned by patron and art collector Léopold Goldschmidt in 1889 and finished in 1895. Considered one of Gustave Moreau’s masterpieces, it’s seen as one of the greatest examples of Symbolism.
Based on Greco-Roman mythology, “Jupiter and Semele” depicts Jupiter (or Zeus) in divine splendor, which causes the death of his lover Semele, a young mortal woman. Also present in the scene are Bacchus (or Dionysus), Faunus (or Pan), and Trivia (or Hecate), among other characters.
“Vie de l’humanité”
“Life of humanity” (in French, “Vie de l’humanité”) is an oil polyptych on wood, consisting of nine rectangular panels arranged topped by a semicircular lunette, which illustrates the redemption of Jesus Christ. And just as the title suggests, this 1886 work describes the stages of human life.
The first row is dedicated to the golden age personified by Adam, a symbol of pure childhood, while the second concerns the silver age, the troubled youth embodied by Orpheus. Finally, the iron age materializes with Cain, the mirror of painful maturity.
“Prometheus” (in French, “Promethée”) is an oil painting on canvas, which celebrates the titan of Greek mythology Prometheus. Gustave Moreau exhibited the work at the Paris Salon of 1868, the same year he dated it, but the painting was rejected by critics.
“Promoteus” evokes the moment when a great eagle devours his liver, after having been chained to a rock at the top of the Caucasus mountain range. The sentence was imposed by Zeus, as punishment for stealing fire from the gods to offer it to the humans.
“The Unicorns” or “The Licorns” (in French, “Les Licornes”) is an oil painting on canvas, to which Gustave Moreau never added a date. And although the work was commissioned by patron and art collector Edmond de Rothschild, the artist never gave it to its buyer!
The theme is an allusion to the six tapestries of “La Dame à la licorne”, which are part of the collection of the Cluny Museum (or National Museum of the Middle Ages). And to execute this composition, Gustave Moreau mixed medieval ornamental motifs with Renaissance decorative elements.
As I mentioned in the introduction, the first floor of the Gustave Moreau Museum is made up of a series of rooms, which accommodated Gustave Moreau and his family. Today, this “sentimental museum” reflects the symbolist thinking, evoking memories and eternity rather than everyday life.
The Reception Room (in French, Cabinet de Réception) preserves the studies that Gustave Moreau made from the old masters, both in the Louvre Museum and in Italy. And the library houses 16th and 17th-century editions of architectural treatises, as well as his father’s collection of antiques!
This visit to the first floor of the Gustave Moreau Museum continues in the Dining Room (in French, Salle à Manger), which is decorated with photographic reproductions of the artist’s most significant paintings and engravings by other masters.
At the same time, the pieces of furniture that fill the space are true masterpieces of woodworking. And the sumptuous ceramics you see in the photographs – typical of the Second French Empire – were collected by her father, Louis Moreau!
The next stop on the first floor of the Gustave Moreau Museum is the Bedroom (in French, Chambre à Coucher), which was the former living room of the painter’s mother, Pauline Moreau. Here, there’s no free space on the walls, such is the number of family portraits drawn, painted, or photographed!
During the transformation of his house into a museum, Gustave Moreau put together his mother’s favorite furniture in this Bedroom – namely the desks that were in his room and hers. And in the display case that occupies one of the sides, there are even more family souvenirs and memorabilia!
This visit to the first floor of the Gustave Moreau Museum ends at the Boudoir, my favorite spot in this “little sentimental museum”. Originally the study (or office) of the architect Louis Moreau, it became Gustave Moreau’s bedroom after his father’s death in 1862.
However, Gustave Moreau remodeled it again in 1895, as a Boudoir in honor of Alexandrine Dureux – one of his closest friends, who had died five years earlier. For that reason, the furniture and objects you see here were part of her personal collection.
Share this blog post on your social media!