We’ve talked a lot about the impact of music on painting and painting on music. In one of our daily blogs we examined a modern version of this: the grunge musical aesthetic of Seattle, USA, influencing a new generation of grunge artists who focus on the coming of age dramas in a stripped down, bare knuckle type of way. But we’d be mistaken if this was something that started recently. Back in the heyday of Impressionism, composers and artists were much more intimate, indeed even having dinner parties to talk about art and co-inspire each other. This is examined in one recent exhibition, to start from February 22 to June 11 this year at the Musée de l’Orangerie, in Paris, France.

The exhibition’s title is fittingly Debussy, Music and the Arts and looks at Claude Debussy, a composer who according to Musée d’Orsay curator Xavier Rey was intimately involved in creating works inspired by art (the exhibition involved Rey, Orsay and Musée de l’Orangerie director Guy Cogeval and Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique musicologist Jean-Michel Nectoux). The show thus includes 200 artworks that epitomises the Parisian cultural scene during the impressionist years, while also highlighting its link with Debussy’s music and his life – the composer celebrates his 150th birthday in August.

So what Impressionist oil paintings will be on show? Debussy was a fan of many painters, but one painter he particularly admired was Edgar Degas, who according to Rey, Debussy met at a dinner at Lerolle’s (Henry Lerolle, the painter and brother-in-law of Debussy) house. The pair struck it off like a house on fire after they discovered they both disliked the term “impressionist” and they also both derided critics who described JMW Turner as an Impressionist. A specific Degas oil painting of note is Marine, 1869, which will be displayed alongside the Turner painting Landscape with a River and a Bay in the Distance, 1835-40, itself lent from the Louvre. Other artists that will be examined include Henri-Edmond Cross’s Les Iles d’Or (the golden isles), 1891-92; Klimt’s Roses under the Trees, 1905, and abstraction by Kandinsky’s Improvisation III.

Other artwork to influence Debussy, in particular his symphonic suite “La Mer”, will also be shown. As with many artists of the period, this inspiration was found halfway around the world in Japan, particularly the block-print of Katsushika Hokusai’s Kanagawa-oki nami ura (the great wave off Kanagawa), 1830-33, which was reproduced on the cover of Debussy’s symphony. This motif of the wave is also continued with Emile Gallé La Mer, 1900, as are several more Japanese prints, which according to Rey “were very important to Debussy’s [musical] imagery”. For those who can’t make it to France, fret not – if you can make it to Japan, the exhibition will be shown at the Bridgestone Museum of Art from July 13 to October 14.