The collaboration 100 Paintings Imagined by Authors by artists Charlie Stein and Andy Best have taken key representations of visual art from literature, and created versions of them in their studios.

Literature and art have had an intimate relationship since before the Modernist era. Interconnected social groups, the two creative formats have influenced key shifts in each other. A constant feature in the history of the novel, fictional artworks serve both for writers as key metaphors for the creative process, as well as serving, perhaps unintentionally, as the structural myths of the artist in society.

Here the product of earnest abstract painters, lovesick hobbyists, great creative geniuses, and failed artists – the full range of artistic stereotypes – are presented. All produced by the same artists’ hands, they question the idea of artistic style, and reveal the myths that are as strategies open to artists today.

These works were products of the writers’ recollections and imaginations, created in texts, rather than oil and canvas. Now presented to the audience within an art context, to be written about and recorded in biography, the works are returned somehow altered to their original source on the page.



Purple Wave 

In Search of Lost Time, Marcel Proust

Oil on Canvas

Context: The narrator describes the various artworks he discovers during his first visit to the painter Elstir’s studio in Balbec,
amongst them a flower study and a painting of a purple foaming wave.

“And Elstir’s studio appeared to me as the laboratory of a sort of new creation of the world in which, from the chaos that is all the things we see, he had extracted, by painting them on various rectangles of canvas that were hung everywhere about the room, here a wave of the sea crushing angrily on the sand its lilac foam, there a young man in a suit of white linen, leaning upon the rail of a vessel.”

Dora’s Flower Painting

David Copperfield, Charles Dickens

Oil on Canvas

Context: The narrator is in love with Dora, who paints flowers as a hobby. He starts to think the feelings may be reciprocated when she paints a particular flower that he gave her as a gift.

“That was on the day when you were painting the flowers I had given you, Dora, and when I told you how much in love I was.”

Dorothea Posing as Santa Clara  

Middlemarch, George Eliot

Oil on Canvas 

Context: Dorothea, on her honeymoon in Italy, is asked by the German painter Naumann to pose for him as Santa Clara.

“Perhaps the beautiful bride, the gracious lady, would not be unwilling to let me fill up the time by trying to make a slight sketch of her—not, of course, as you see, for that picture-only as a single study.”

Mr Casaubon, bowing, doubted not that Mrs. Casaubon would oblige him, and Dorothea said, at once, “Where shall I put myself?”

Naumann was all apologies in asking her to stand, and allow him to adjust her attitude, to which she submitted without any of the affected airs and laughs frequently thought necessary on such occasions, when the painter said, “It is as Santa Clara that I want you to stand-leaning so, with your cheek against your hand*—so—looking at that stool, please, so!”

*in the German edition the painter asks Dorothea to pose “mit der Hand auf der Brust” – with her hand placed on her chest.


David Copperfield, Charles Dickens

Oil on Canvas

I know it was near the bar, on account of the smell of spirits and jingling of glasses. Here, recumbent on a small sofa, underneath the picture of a race-horse, with her head close to the fire, and her feet pushing the mustard off the dumb-waiter at the other end of the room, was Mrs. Micawber, to whom Mr. Micawber entered first, saying, “My dear, allow me to introduce to you a pupil of Dr. Strong’s.”

Elstir’s Flower Study

In Search of Lost Time, Marcel Proust

Oil on Canvas

Context: Marcel describes a flower study that he sees in Elstir’s studio which seems to relate to his own memories surrounding the hawthorn tree on the way to Swann.

It was a flower study but not one of any of the flowers, portraits of which I would rather have commissioned him to paint than the portrait of a person, so that I might learn from the revelation of his genius what I had so often sought in vain from the flowers themselves – hawthorn white and pink, cornflowers, appleblossom.


Portrait of Anna

Anna Karenina, Tolstoi

Oil on Canvas

Context: During their time away from St.Petersburg Count Vronsky paints a portrait of Anna.

„[H]e became inspired very quickly and easily, and arrived as quickly and easily at making what he painted look very much like the kind of art he wanted to imitate. He liked the graceful and showy French manner more than any other, and in this manner he began painting a portrait of Anna in Italian costume, and to him and to everyone who saw it this portrait seemed very successful. ”

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