Pinter/PROUST: The Three Charles Swanns

Fans of Richard Armitage were ecstatic that he played the role of Charles Swann in the reading of The Proust Screenplay. And, as with all the roles Richard Armitage plays and with all the co-stars he works with, there’s a sort of bleed that leads us to want to learn more about his roles and their genesis, as well as cast and crew with whom he works. Just think about all the new Tolkien and Sherlock fans in our fandom now.  Witness our interest in Sir Ian McKellen in his current Broadway run and how we keep track of all the dwarves on twitter and elsewhere.

Richard Armitage ,as  our main interest, is the entreé, but as is often the case,  side dishes deserve respect and relish as well.

Which brings me back to these goodies, brought to my attention in my current off-blog conversation with Armitagebesotted.

Most scholars of Proust believe that the role models for the character of Charles Swann are Charles Ephrussi and Charles Hass.

Like the fictional Charles Swann, Charles Ephrussi was a  Jewish-French critic, art historian, and art collector. Ephrussi also was a part-owner and then editor as well as a contributor to the Gazette  des Beaux-Arts, the most important art historical periodical in France. Like Swann, he socialized with Europe’s heads of state, frequented the salons of  Belle Epoque Paris. Later, he became a supporter of Alfred Dreyfus, a stance which put him at odds with many in his social circle.

A friend and possible patron of  Renoir, he is one of the figures in this well known Renoir painting. He’s the figure in the top hat, and he’s talking to Marcel Proust.


Renoir’s “Luncheon of the Boating Party”



Besotted learned about Charles Ephrussi by way of a book she recommends highly, a family memoir/mystery, written by Ephrussi’s distant relative, Edmund de Waal. (The Hare with Amber Eyes)

Everything about Charles Ephrussi supports the position that he was the model for Charles Swann, except, he was considered to be decidedly unhandsome, and he never married.

On the other hand, Charles Haas, about whom very little is known, was a tall, handsome socialite, lawyer for the Rothschilds,  and also a French Jew who supported Dreyfus.  Although married with one daughter ( like Charles Swann) he was the long time lover of actress Sarah Bernhardt. Charles Haas also made into the artwork of the day.  Hass is the tall, lean figure standing in the far right of the painting.

Le Cercle de la rue Royale by Tissot.

Le Cercle de la rue Royale by Tissot.



I doubt if Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past has ever been considered a “side dish” before, but then he’s never shared the plate with Richard Armitage .

And speaking of works of art, this from the Richard Armitage Appreciation Society Facebook Page:

Mat richard 1538747_595636007175675_1572613590_n

6 thoughts on “Pinter/PROUST: The Three Charles Swanns

  1. Thank you for this the Printer/Proust play really inspired me to read the books. I’m enthralled and will be taking vol 1 with me at the weekend. Hopefully to get away from this 40c heat. Can we
    Please have a little of your cold, awaiting what RA will be doing next……


  2. Thanks for these information Perry, highly appreciated. I didn’t know Proust was in that Renoir painting. The things you learn being a fan of RA… 😉


  3. Pingback: Armitage Weekly Round-Up Week 5 | I Want to be a Pin Up

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