Oriane de Guermantes after winning a game of lawn tennis at la Raspelière.
(All images are acrylic on 3x4.5 balsa panels, 2008.
They enlarge when clicked.)
Baron de Charlus returned to Paris, refreshed after a month at Balbec.
Charles Swann with the monocle he never wore.
Odette de Crécy dressed as Oriane de Guermantes. Gilberte Swann watching Marcel.
Albertine Simonet in her Fortuny gown. Mme Verdurin somewhat amused by a non-sequiter. Robert Saint-Loup the day before he fell in the trenches.
Mme Amèdée watching Marcel as they listen to
the water-closet attendant on the Champs-Elysée.
Nadar's Marcel at 16.
A complete gallery of the characters from À la recherche du temps perdu would include more of the narrator’s family than his grandmother Berthilde, Mme Amèdée. Mamma, it goes without saying, would appear in a place of honor, and Father, and Aunt Léonie of the madeleines and the lime tisanes, and Uncle Adolphe with whom Marcel first meets Odette. François the family servant should join them of course; perhaps Eulalie. The walls would be crowded.
The actress Berma, the author Bergotte, the painter Elstir and the composer Vinteuil each deserve a portrait. Basin, Duc de Guermantes, and the Prince and Princess de Guermantes in their various incarnations must hang in the gallery. Monsieur Norpois and Mme de Villeparisis are necessary; the Princesses de Parme and Luxembourg; (or were they the same person?) perhaps not so much. Mme Verdurin needs M. Verdurin along with rest of the “little clan”: the Cottards, Brichot, Ski, Princess Sherbatoff and Saniette. The Bontemps and the Marsantes, the Cambremers and Mme Saint–Euverte must round out society with the Arpajons, the Ambresacs and Gri-gri Agrigente. Forcheville must be there for Odette and Gilberte. Rachel the actress, Mme Stermaria, Andrée, of the “little band at Balbec”, and Bloch, Albert the nephew and even his uncle Saloman need a place. Jupien and Jupien’s niece (or is it his daughter?), and Charles Morel must surround and support the Baron de Charlus. And it would be pointless without portraits of the manager of the Grand Hotel, of the lift boy, and of Mme Putbus’s maid.
Except for Nadar’s photograph of Marcel the 10 portraits here are of course imaginative. That they each share some resemblance is a measure of how much each is a facet of Marcel’s soul: In the end we must have faith in Marcel’s diligence and sincerity as well as our own.