A Proustian Gallery:
Selected Works from the Harvard Art Museums
Guest curator: Susan Ricci-Stebbins
The Harvard Art Museums’ collection of European art is remarkably Proustian. The Museums own several of the very paintings described or alluded to in Proust’s novel In Search of Lost Time, including Gustave Moreau’s “The Young Man and Death” and Ingres’s “Odalisque With a Slave.” Overall, about seventy of the hundred or so visual artists mentioned by Proust are represented in the Harvard collections, many by multiple examples.
The reasons for this are complex, but likely have to do with the fact that Harvard's first art professors, Charles Eliot Norton and Charles Herbert Moore, emulated John Ruskin's teaching methods. They, along with the many Harvard collectors they trained (including Grenville L. Winthrop, Maurice Wertheim, and Paul Sachs) were grounded in Ruskinian aesthetics, as was Proust himself.
Charles Herbert Moore (American, 1840-1930)
John Ruskin (c. 1876-77)
Watercolor and white gouache on off-white wove paper
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of the Misses Sara, Elizabeth, and Margaret Norton, 1919.1
Above: John Ruskin, Part of a Sketch of the Northwest Porch of St. Mark's, 1879 (detail). Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of Samuel Sachs, 1919.259.