WHICH PATCH OF YELLOW WALL? The essentialvermeer blog says that scholars still differ over where the “little patch of yellow wall” is in the painting. There are three possibilities, identified as A, B, and C on the blog post. The blog presents the arguments of the scholars in detail. Why does Proust leave the issue open for the scholars?
One possibility to explain the doubts about the location of the patch of yellow wall is that Proust was weak and dying and confused himself. An explanation that I find more appealing is that Proust was commenting on how different the experience of art is from our anticipation of that experience or from the memory of that experience—and how personal and transitory that experience can be. The location of the patch of yellow wall is clear to Bergotte when he sees the painting again. The rest of us can’t know Bergotte’s experience of the painting at that time and so we can’t know which patch of yellow wall is the one that Bergotte picks out.