A Marvelous Moment for French Writers and Artists

A Marvelous Moment for French Writers and Artists

The close friendship, interaction, and parallelism between writers and artists in nineteenth-century France are the subject of Anka Muhlstein’s "The Pen and the Brush." Balzac put more painters into his novels than he did writers, constantly name-checking artists and using them as visual shorthand (old men looked like Rembrandts, innocent girls like Raphaels). Zola, as a young novelist, lived much more among painters than writers, and told Degas that when he needed to describe laundresses he had simply copied from the artist’s pictures. Victor Hugo was a fine Gothicky-Romantic artist in his own right, and an innovative one too.

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