Friday, May 13

blue room

Was Marcel Proust, sequestered in his cork-lined bedchamber with its twelve-foot ceiling, sealed windows (two), and felt-lined shutters, asking by way of color for solitude? An exact recreation of that room at the Musée Carnavalet at 32 rue de Sévigné in Paris shows not only that his bedspread was a policeman-blue, a dark satiny hue, with ruffles at the bottom, but that the color informed the scheme of the entire chamber. "The most striking thing in the room, apart from the cork, was the color blue," wrote his housekeeper Céleste Albaret in her memoir of 1973, "the blue of the curtains, to be precise, which reflected the big chandelier that hung from the ceiling -- a sort of bowl ending in a point, with lot of lights and several switches, which was never lighted except for visitors or when I tidied the room in M. Proust's absence. There was a thick white marble mantelpiece with two blue-globe candelabra and a matching bronze clock in between. The candelabra were never used either. The only light came from the small long-stemmed bedside lamp -- like a desk lamp -- which lighted up his papers while leaving his face in shadow."

-- Alexander Theroux The Primary Colors