Prix du Musée d'Orsay

In 2006, the Musée d'Orsay created a prize to be awarded every year for a thesis on the history of art, specifically relating to the second half of the 20th century. This initiative aims to strengthen the links between museums and universities, and enable them to work together more actively in their common disciplines to support young researchers.

These theses represent a body of knowledge that often remains within a limited circle. Certain manuscripts are seen as a crucial step forward for their researchers, but their results do not benefit the art history community. The Musée d'Orsay intends henceforth to assist the publication of the most outstanding contributions of young academics.

2014 Prize – Call for proposals

Awarding the prize

The prize is awarded by a jury of five members, academics and curators, for a thesis that has been examined by a university, the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes (EPHE), the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), the Ecole des Chartes, or for a post-graduate thesis from the Ecole du Louvre. The thesis must be presented as examined, accompanied by the jury's report, the summary written at the time of submission, a list of the author's publications and a note from the author indicating how the manuscript would be revised for publication.

Terms and Conditions

Candidates are invited to send their application to the director of the Public Establishment of the museum before 6pm on Tuesday 15 April 2014. It must include a letter as well as three copies of the documents mentioned above, addressed to: 62 rue de Lille, 75343 Paris cedex 07, with the reference "Prix du Musée d'Orsay", for the attention of A. Thomine.

2012 Prize

The prize winner is Charlotte Foucher, Buried Symbolism: Women Artists in Symbolist Circles in France at the Turn of the Century, supervised by Pascal Rousseau, Université de Paris I. The jury also awarded a first prize, ex aequo, to the work of Carole Halimi, The Tableau Vivant from Diderot to Artaud, and its Aesthetic in the Contemporary Visual Arts (20th and 21st centuries), supervised by Jean-Claude Lebensztejn, Université de Paris I.

2012 Prize

The winner is Clément Dessy, “Writers confronted with the Nabi challenge. Standpoints, writing techniques and influences”, thesis defended 5 December 2011 at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, supervised by Paul Aron.

2011 Prize – The jury's decision

On 28 July 2011, the jury of the Prix du Musée d'Orsay held its final deliberations.
The 2011 prize has been awarded to the thesis by M. Nicholas-Henri Zmelty, Mises en-scene in provincial "colonial salons" (1850-1896). Towards the emergence of colonial exhibition models, University Michel de Montaigne-Bordeaux 3, supervised by Dominique Jarrassé, examined 4 December 2009. The jury strongly urged the publication of this work.

2010 Prize – The Jury's Decision

On Thursday 29 April 2010 at 10.30am, the jury of the Prix du Musée d'Orsay convened to choose the winner of the 2010 Prize.
The jury consisted of Mr Rémy Labrusse, professor at the University of Picardy, Mr Michaël Zimmermann, professor at the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt, Mr Philippe Durey, general curator and director of the Ecole du Louvre, Mrs Alice Thomine, curator at the Musée d'Orsay and Mrs Catherine Chevillot, chief curator at the Musée d'Orsay, representing Mr Guy Cogeval, director of the Public Establishment of the Musée d'Orsay.

The Prize was awarded to Mrs Claire Le Thomas, Popular origins of an intellectual art. Cubist innovations and ordinary techniques in the creative process (1907-1914), supervised by Mr Thierry Dufrêne, University of Paris X – Nanterre, examined 17 November 2008

In view of the exceptional nature of the thesis by Mrs Ruth Fiori, Building heritage awareness in Paris at the end of the 19th century: leading figures, practices and representations (1884-1914), supervised by Dominique Poulot, University of Paris I – Panthéon-Sorbonne, examined 30 June 2009, it was decided to award, ex-aequo, a prize of €1,000 without publication, as provided for in the rules. The jury strongly urged the publication of this work.

2009 Prize

In 2009, the jury awarded the Prize for the thesis by Raphaële Delas, Aimé and Louis Duthoit, the last image makers of the Middle Ages. A workshop for the creation and restoration of medieval sculpture in Amiens, supervised by Laurence Bertrand-Dorléac, University of Picardy - Jules Verne.

The jury consisted of Mr Dominique Jarrassé, professor at the University of Bordeaux-3, Mr Michaël Zimmermann, professor at the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt, Mr Philippe Durey, general curator and director of the Ecole du Louvre, Mrs Alice Thomine, curator at the Musée d’Orsay and Mr Guy Cogeval, director of the Public Establishment of the Musée d'Orsay (EPMO).

2008 Prize

On Thursday 17 April 2008, after considering the ten theses submitted, the jury awarded the Prix du Musée d'Orsay to Sarah Linford for The Symbolism of the Third Republic: tradition as avant-garde, 1871-1915, supervised by Jean-Paul Bouillon and Todd Porterfield, University of Clermont-Ferrand - Blaise Pascal and Université of Princeton (co-tutors), thesis submitted 20 February 2007.

2007 Prize

On Tuesday 6 March 2007 at 1pm, the Musée d'Orsay Prize jury convened to choose the winner of the 2007 Prize.

The jury consisted of Mr Dominique Jarrassé, professor at the University of Bordeaux-3, Mr. Michaël Zimmermann, professor at the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt, Mr Philippe Durey, general curator, Ecole du Louvre, Mr Philippe Thiébaut, chief curator at the Musée d'Orsay and Mr Serge Lemoine, director of the Public Establishment of the Musée d'Orsay.

  • The jury awarded the Prize to Béatrice Joyeux-Prunel, for her thesis "A prophet is not without honour save in his own country...", or the logic of the avant-garde. The internationalisation of Paris avant-garde painting, 1855-1914, University of Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne, supervised by Christophe Charles.


Exceptionally, and in accordance with the rule allowing the award of a special prize of €1,000 for a class two thesis, without publication, the jury selected, ex-aequo, the theses:

  • Laurent Houssais, André Fontainas (1865-1948), critic and art historian, University of Clermont-Ferrand II Blaise Pascal, supervised by Jean-Paul Bouillon,
  • Florence Rionnet, The role of the Maison Barbedienne (1834-1954) in disseminating sculpture in the 19th and 20th centuries, reflections on limited edition bronzes and the history of taste, University of Paris IV - Sorbonne, supervised by Bruno Foucart

2006 Prize

The 2006 Prix du Musée d’Orsay was awarded to Emmanuelle Amiot-Saulnier for Religious painting in France, 1873-1879.

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