The traditional relationship between painting and literature underwent a profound change in nineteenth-century France. Painting progressively asserted its independence from literature as it liberated itself from narrative obligations whilst interrogating the concept of subject matter itself. Simultaneously the influence of art on the writing styles of authors increased and the character of the artist established itself as a recurring motif in French literature.This book offers a panoramic review of the relationship between art and literature in nineteenth-century France. By means of a series of case studies chosen from key moments throughout the nineteenth century, the aim of this study is to provide a focused analysis of specific examples of this relationship, revealing both its multifaceted nature as well as offering a panorama of the development of this on-going and increasingly complex cultural relationship. From Jacques Louis David’s irreverence for classical texts to Victor Hugo’s graphic works, from Edouard Manet’s illustrations to Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings of books, from Honoré de Balzac’s Unknown Masterpiece to Joris-Karl Huysmans’s A Rebours, this interdisciplinary investigation of the links between literature and art in France throws new light on both fields of creative endeavour during a critical phase of France’s cultural history.
Dr Emilie Sitzia is an Associate Professor in the Literature and Art department at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. Her research interests are French art literature and literary art.