Category Archives: books in art


painting of a window with a table in the foreground, containing some books, paper, a pen, an inkwell, a box, looking out on a village and on a balcony from which a woman looks down on the village

The window (1925) by Pierre Bonnard. Painting held in the Tate in London, UK. Public domain.

Another desk with a view. I am drawn to Pierre Bonnard’s work — although I don’t like it as much as that of others — perhaps because of the scenes of domesticity shown in a lot of his work. I would die for a desk with a view like this. I can almost smell the south of France and hear the sound of cicadas …

I was intrigued by the book on the desk. Apparently, it is the French translation, published in 1898, of Marie (1893) by Danish author Peter Nansen, for which Bonnard drew the illustrations. Unlike the Danish original, the English translation by Julia Le Gallienne (née Julie Nørregaard) is still very readable. If you like the style of writing, that is — it reads a bit too Sturm und Drang-ish to me.

I like this description from pages 9 and 10:

Every morning I see on my bedroom window an old fat fly. He is quite grey with age and seems too lazy to move.

Part of Peacock and two flies (1688–98), engraving by an anonymous artist. Print held in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Public domain.

But as soon as I come near him, whip! he has gone. I hear him buzz amongst the bed‑curtains. I hear him smack heavily against the wall or ceiling. I open all the windows and go hunting him with a towel. Suddenly he disappears, He hides himself in the rug, behind the mirror, or on the frame of a picture. There he sits perfectly quiet, until I am tired of searching. But every morning I find him again on my window-pane. He never leaves me. with black specs he soils my sheets, and night after night he signs his foul gossiping song over my bed.

When one evening as Marie stood in front of the mirror there was the loathsome beast on her white neck.