Paintings in Proust
A Visual Companion to 'In Search of Lost Time'
Thames & Hudson, Londen, 2008
“In Search of Lost Time” by Marcel Proust is one of the most profoundly visual works in Western literature. Not only are there frequent references to specific works of art, notably during the narrator’s visits to Venice and in his evaluations of the style of the imaginary painter Elstir, but certain characters are also evoked by comparison to particular paintings.
Bloch’s appearance as a boy is likened to the portrait of Mohammed II by Gentile Bellini; Odette de Crécy strikes Swann by her resemblance to a figure in a Botticelli fresco. Even the lesser figure of a certain Mme. Blattin becomes the subject of Proustian mischief by being described as “exactly the portrait of Savonarola by Fra Bartolomeo.â€?
Eric Karpeles has identified and located the many paintings to which Proust makes reference; in other cases, where only a painter’s name is mentioned to indicate a certain style or appearance, Karpeles has chosen a representative work to illustrate the impression that Proust sought to evoke.