Our art critic has brought to our attention the dazzling success of Jacques Blanche's exhibition. What is less known is that this extraordinary portraitist is also a remarkable writer. He has given us fresh proof of this in a way that is especially pleasing for us, by publishing a long study on one of our collaborators, Marcel Proust, and his novel: Du côte de chez Swann. M. Blanche has traced with his pen a powerfully evocative portrait which in every aspect is the equal of his portraits in paint.
Anonymous article by Proust, Le Figaro 18 April 1914.
A New Literary Critic
After having published some penetrating and often ironic pages on contemporary artists, M. Jacques Blanche has just made a dazzling debut in literary criticism. Yesterday the creator of the splendid portrait of Mme Germaine published a study on Mme de Noailles; a few days ago he furnished us with an admirably comprehensive and perceptive article on Marcel Proust's beautiful book, Du côte de chez Swann. The best thing we can do is to quote some passages from it that demonstrate the most equitable of critics:
"Du côte de chez Swann (read on and you will see how well chosen this disconcerting title is) carries within it an irresistible sorcery. It evokes a Paris that is no more; without being a roman à clef I can recognize two or three models for every character; it has the flavour of an autobiography and an essay, overflowing with sensitivity and intelligence. The author has the attractiveness of those young bourgeois of yesteryear, scholars, artists, the first to make their escape from their own milieu, setting out, their nostrils quivering, to journey through the multi-layered Parisian society and to analyze its perfumes."
This is excellent criticism, wholly worthy of the great talent and the remarkable work of M. Marcel Proust.
Anonymous article by Proust, Gil Blas 18 April 1914.
M. Jacques-É. Blanche, literary critic
M. Jacques-É. Blanche, the highly talented painter, creator of portraits that have had the most enlightened approbation and which have received from the outset the world's deserved consecration, has just revealed himself once more as a literary critic. In L'Écho de Paris, where he had recently submitted some very remarkable pages on Maurice Barrès' La Colline inspirée, he has published an article on M. Marcel Proust's last book Du côte de chez Swann in which he displays all his critical gifts. And this comes as no surprise. It is natural that a shrewd observer of the human physiognomy such as M. Jacques-É. Blanche, can penetrate and readily judge works on the human spirit. Thus his gifts as a portraitist are brought to bear in an exercise that is new to him. Firstly he establishes the moral physiognomy of the author of Du côte de chez Swann; he depicts him in his intimate private life at close quarters through his memories and his opinions. "There is something of Granville in M. Proust", writes M. Jacques-É. Blanche; "just like that renowned artist, he observes beings from above and from below, foreshortened and stretched to their limit; he sees them from curious angles. I could almost say that he suggests the "fourth dimension" of the cubists." It is easy to see how he introduces much from art and the painter's skill into such judgements; we recall what our collaborator M. Bidou said recently about M. Blanche's criticism, on his studies of Whistler and Fantin. But it is more curious still that this critical perspicacity is being exercised on the work not only of painters, but on the most intriguing productions in music and literature. Today M. Blanche is studying Du côte de chez Swann. We recall what he wrote yesterday about Sacre du Printemps.
Anonymous article by Proust, L'Écho 24 April 1914. The identical article was also published in Le Journal des Débats, 24 April 1914.
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