Balzac and the Model of Painting
Artist Stories in La Comédie humaine

Diana Knight

Research Monographs in French Studies 24

Legenda

14 December 2007  •  160pp

ISBN: 978-1-905981-06-9 (hardback)  •  RRP £75, $99, €85

ModernFrenchArt


Texts about paintings, painters and sculptors are obvious test cases for issues of representation. A significant corpus of artist stories is scattered through Honoré de Balzac's Comédie humaine which, from Marx to Lukács to Roland Barthes's enormously influential S/Z (1970), has been a key literary work for critical debates around French realism. In a series of close readings, Diana Knight explores Barthes's 'model of painting' — the metaphorical code of painting and sculpture that underpins realist discourse — in the context of Balzac's fictional representations of the relation between artists, their models and their works of art. Whereas critics have tended to denounce Balzac's realist aesthetic as complicit with the misogyny of the society he portrays, Balzac and the Model of Painting takes the artist-model relationship, variously gendered in these stories, as the focus of the author's powerful realist critique of the sexual politics of prostitution and marriage in nineteenth-century France.

Diana Knight is Professor of French at the University of Nottingham.

Reviews:

  • ‘Carefully focused, tightly written, and well-presented, this volume of close readings of Balzac’s artist stories is a solid and valuable addition to the Research Monographs in the Legenda series.’ — Marja Warehime, Nineteenth-Century French Studies 38, Fall-Winter 2009-10, 119-20
  • ‘Are painting and sculpture equally liable to distort lived experience, or is sculpture capable of securing a closer approximation of material truth? This is just one of the intriguing questions suggested by Balzac and the Model of Painting.’ — Elizabeth C. Mansfield, caa.reviews 2 December 2009

Bibliography entry:

Knight, Diana, Balzac and the Model of Painting: Artist Stories in La Comédie humaine, Research Monographs in French Studies, 24 (Cambridge: Legenda, 2007)

First footnote reference: 35 Diana Knight, Balzac and the Model of Painting: Artist Stories in La Comédie humaine, Research Monographs in French Studies, 24 (Cambridge: Legenda, 2007), p. 21.

Subsequent footnote reference: 37 Knight, p. 47.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)

Bibliography entry:

Knight, Diana. 2007. Balzac and the Model of Painting: Artist Stories in La Comédie humaine, Research Monographs in French Studies, 24 (Cambridge: Legenda)

Example citation: ‘A quotation occurring on page 21 of this work’ (Knight 2007: 21).

Example footnote reference: 35 Knight 2007: 21.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)


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