In the 'Great Works' item in the Independent 27th June 2008, Tom Lubbock discusses 'The Bellelli Family' by Edgar Degas. (See it here in the Musee d'Orsay Gallery website.) He comments:
The nearest pictorial thing to the 19th-century novel is the 19th-century portraitI've often had a problem with picture galleries, and I've idea of what my problem might be - there's too much information in the paintings. All those novels hanging on the walls. You wouldn't expect to get a lot out of walking around a library and spending a few minutes reading each of dozens of different novels.