Crossover Appeal

9 Portraits of Famous Writers

There’s just something about the mingling of artistic media that always puts a smile on my face. I’m thinking, for example, of such works as Pictures at an Exhibition (completed in 1874) by the Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky, or Emile Zola’s novel The Masterpiece (1886) based loosely on the life of Paul Paul Cézanne (and if you’re into novels featuring art and artists, see this earlier Book Riot post). But above all, I just love love love paintings of famous writers because they offer alternate windows into these literary lives. Each artist approaches his/her subject with a necessarily unique perspective, and the outcome is always fascinating.

For your viewing pleasure, therefore, I present nine portraits of famous writers by (mostly) famous painters (and yes, Manet shows up a lot here- dude must have really loved the writers). I’m sure there are many more out there, so tell us about them in the comments! The more the merrier!


 Theodore Dreiser by Henry Varnum Poor (1933); source



 Gertrude Stein (1905-6) by Pablo Picasso; source



 Portrait of Emile Zola (1868) by Edouard Manet; source



Stéphane Mallarmé (1876) by Edouard Manet; source


Beatrice Hastings (1914) by Amedeo Modigliani; source


Willa Cather (1923) by Leon Bakst; source


Charles Dickens (1859) by William Powell Frith; source


Herman Melville (1870) by Joseph Eaton; source


George Moore (1879) by Edouard Manet; source


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Rachel S. Cordasco has a literary studies Ph.D and has taught American literature and composition. She has also worked as an editorial assistant at the Wisconsin Historical Society Press. Join her in her bookish adventures on facebook and twitter @Rcordas.