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Major exhibitions at the Musée de l’Orangerie from the 1930s to the 1950s

The Musée National de l’Orangerie des Tuileries was attached to the Louvre in 1930. The western half of the building, next to the Place de la Concorde, was thus transformed into a series of four rooms intended for the temporary exhibitions of the national museums, which marked a new chapter in its history. A series of magnificent exhibitions were held every year: a cycle on the Impressionists from 1930 to 1933, the exhibition dedicated to the 17th century Peintres de la réalité [Painters of Reality] in 1934 which has become legendary, Rubens et son temps [Rubens and His Age] which attracted a million visitors in 1936, and Degas in 1937. In 1942 an exhibition was held dedicated to Arno Breker, a German sculptor who studied in France and who became an official artist of the Third Reich. The masterpieces of French private collections recovered in Germany by the French Commission for Art Recovery and the allies, the Monuments Men, were displayed here in 1946.

In 1945, the Orangerie, along with the Jeu de Paume which housed the Impressionist collections of the Louvre, formed a single entity attached to the Paintings Department of the Louvre Museum. The Réunion des Musées Nationaux continued to organise major exhibitions here from 1946 to 1960 which proved highly successful, such as Van Gogh et les peintres d’Auvers-sur-Oise [Van Gogh and The Painters of Auvers-sur-Oise] and De David à Toulouse-Lautrec [From David to Toulouse-Lautrec] in 1954 and 1955... This led to in the construction of the Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, which opened in 1964.