"Only a petty mind, an artist who at most speaks and dresses as such, looks solely for people in whom he recognizes the harmonious proportions of allegorical figures. For the true artist, as for the natural scientist, every type is interesting, and even the smallest muscle has its importance" - Marcel Proust
Long overlooked in Proust's posthumously published writings, Chardin and Rembrandt, written when he was only twenty-four years old, not only reemphasizes the importance of visual art to his development, but contains the seeds of his later work.
Proposed in 1895 by Proust to the newspaper Revue hebdomadaire (it was rejected), this essay is much more than a straightforward piece of art criticism. It is a literary experiment in which an unnamed narrator gives advice to a young man suffering from melancholy, taking him on an imaginary tour through the Louvre where his readings of Chardin imbue the everyday world with new meaning, and his ruminations on Rembrandt take his melancholic pupil beyond the realm of mere objects.