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Art in Literature

I'm interested in collecting references to art in literature -- particularly references to specific classical, romantic, or Pre-Raphaelite paintings of the 19th and early 20th centuries, or to the artists or genre(s) in general. If you'd like to contribute, please visit our message boards to post your findings, or send an email if you prefer.

In praise of Beauty,

Tess of Midnight Muse

New reference added 11-27-2001 (scroll down)


The Secret Garden
published 1909 (?)
by Frances Hodgson Burnett

In Chapter XX, Colin is speaking about the arrival of Spring:

"That morning when you ran in and said, 'It's come! It's come!' you made me feel quite queer. It sounded as if things were coming with a great procession and big bursts and wafts of music. I've a picture like it in one of my books -- crowds of lovely people and children with garlands and branches with blossoms on them, everyone laughing and dancing and crowding and playing on pipes. That was why I said, 'Perhaps we shall hear golden trumpets,' and told you to throw open the window."


Colin's description sounds like Spring (1894)
painted by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema.

(click on thumbnail for larger image)



To Kill a Mockingbird
by Harper Lee
published 1960

In Chapter 12, Jem and Scout Finch are visiting their nurse Calpurnia's church, First Purchase African M.E. Church. The action takes place in Alabama in the 1930s.

"First Purchase was unceiled and unpainted within. Along its walls unlighted kerosene lamps hung on brass brackets; pine benches served as pews. Behind the rough oak pulpit a faded pink silk banner proclaimed God Is Love, the church's only decoration except a rotogravure print of Hunt's The Light of the World."


The Light of the World (1853)
William Holman Hunt

(click on thumbnail for larger image)




Women In Love
by D. H. Lawrence
published c. 1920 (?)

From Chapter 1, "Sisters:"

"[Hermione's] long pale face, that she carried lifted up, somewhat in the Rossetti fashion, seemed almost drugged...."

Beata Beatrix (c. 1870)
Dante Gabriel Rossetti

The Daydream (1880)
Dante Gabriel Rossetti

(click on thumbnails for larger image)




Orpheus Descending
by Tennessee Williams
copyright 1955, 1958

Act II Scene 3. The speaker is the young man Val.

"I like that picture in there. That's a famous picture, that 'September Morn' picture you got on the wall in there. Ha ha! I might have trouble sleeping in a room with that picture. I might keep turning the light on to take another look at it! The way she's cold in that water and sort of crouched over in it, holding her body like that, that -- might -- ha ha! -- sort of keep me awake. . . ."


September Morn (1912)
Paul-Emile Chabas

(click on thumbnail for larger image)



"Autre Temps..."
by Edith Wharton
(included in Roman Fever & Other Stories)

Part III. Mrs. Lidcote listens to a relative speaking cheerfully of her newly-divorced daughter and the improvements in her life:

"You won't know Leila. She's had her pearls reset. Sargent's to paint her."


Mrs. Ralph Curtis (1898)
John Singer Sargent

(click on thumbnail for larger image)

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