Property from The Collection of Robert Shapazian
PROUST, Marcel (1871-1922). Portrait photograph of the young author in soldier's dress, inscribed and signed "Au seul Gaston de sien Marcel Proust." [1889-1890].
Sepia-toned silver print photograph (photographer unidentified). Image: 7¼ x 4¼ in. (210 x 160mm). Original two-toned mount: 12 3/16 x 9 3/8 in. (310 x 240mm). (Pale foxing, one mount corner chipped, small clean tear at lower margin between the "a" and"r" of "Marcel"). Matted and framed.
THE YOUNG MARCEL PROUST, IN SOLDIERS' GARB. The future author of À la recherche du temps perdu at the age of 18 enlisted in an Orléans regiment. Proust was evidently delighted with his new military wardrobe and several images of this period show him in different outfits, usually posed against a leafy garden trellis. This particular image is unusual in that it shows him without epaulets or helmet, holding a large, open book. He appears vaguely monastic in a three-quarter length officer's coat. During his year of military service, Proust was assigned special sleeping quarters because his coughing disturbed his fellow enlistees. In addition, he was exempted from morning parade drills and allowed to spend weekends with his family. Not surprisingly, when he sought to re-enlist, he was rejected. In an early sketch, Proust looked back wistfully on his regimental life" as "a series of small paintings...filled with happy truth and magic over which time has spread its sweet sadness and its poetry." INSCRIBED PHOTOGRAPHS OF PROUST ARE EXTREMELY RARE.