Portrait of Marcel Proust - Jacques-Emile Blanche

Gilles Farina
Publié le 12 June 2023
Portrait of Marcel Proust - Jacques-Emile Blanche

The portrait of Marcel Proust was painted by Jacques-Émile Blanche in 1892. It is undoubtedly the most famous representation of the French writer, and it is this image that comes to mind when we think of him. Today, Museum TV offers you the opportunity to discover this portrait of Marcel Proust.

A meeting in Trouville

Jacques-Émile Blanche creates many portraits, whether in Paris or on the Normandy coast where he spends his weekends. Through his works, the artist maps out the artistic and literary life of the Belle Époque. But let's go back to the portrait of Marcel Proust. When Jacques-Émile Blanche paints it, Marcel Proust is 21 years old and is not yet a famous writer, but rather a mere society chronicler. The two men met a year earlier in Trouville and became very good friends.

The search for truth

Young Proust is portrayed facing the viewer, with a strong contrast between the dark colors and the pale complexion of his face. The white orchid accompanying him captivates the viewer. Jacques-Émile Blanche seems to offer the dandy an eternal youth, like a "rediscovered time" for both the writer and his work, an immutable youth. Jacques-Émile Blanche associates with Manet and Whistler and admires them. Like them, he seeks to capture the truth of the subject/model.

The artist primarily focuses on Proust's clothing and demeanor, reminiscent of his behavior in Parisian salons. The gaze is also a central element, considered a true mirror of the soul by Blanche. Proust's sensual pout, a symbol of his delicacy, reflects his inner self as an author. It is likely for this reason that this portrait of Marcel Proust became very famous, even at a time when he had not yet authored "In Search of Lost Time," a groundbreaking work, in essence!

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