The Unknown Masterpiece – Honoré de Balzac

The Unknown Masterpiece by Honore de Balzac is the only book I had read from him years later. Although it was short, I immediately remembered how influential the author was. This story has deeply affected many people, from many famous painters to authors. After finishing the book in a snap, it was not difficult to understand why. If you appreciate art, you’ll particularly love this book.


The Unknown Masterpiece - Honoré de Balzac

In The Unknown Masterpiece, we encounter two real and famous painters: the young Nicolas Poussin and the elderly François Pourbus. However, this book is far from being about these famous painters; they are just the materials used to describe art and passion. One cannot help but be impressed when the painting Frenhofer has been working on for ten years comes to light. One of the reasons for this is that there are many rumours about who he really is. Balzac explains what the painting is about in this book, making the reader think a lot. What really is a painting, what is it about? Can anyone see the meaning of it? This is a beautiful classic about love, art, passion, madness and obsession. I’d suggest you read it if you appreciate art. Enjoy!

The Unknown Masterpiece - Honoré de Balzac

The Unknown Masterpiece

One of Honore de Balzac’s most celebrated tales, “The Unknown Masterpiece” is the story of a painter who, depending on one’s perspective, is either an abject failure or a transcendental genius–or both. The story, which has serve as an inspiration to artists as various as Cezanne, Henry James, Picasso, and New Wave director Jacques Rivette, is, in critic Dore Ashton’s words, a “fable of modern art.” Publish here in a new translation by poet Richard Howard, “The Unknown Masterpiece” appears, as Balzac intend, with “Gambara,” a grotesque and tragic novella about a musician unhitch by his dreams.

Honoré De Balzac (1799-1850) is generally credit as the inventor of the modern realistic novel. In more than ninety novels, he set forth French society and life as he saw it. He created a cast of over two thousand individual and identifiable characters, some of whom reappear in different novels. He organized his works into his masterpiece, La Comedie Humaine, which was the final result of his attempt to grasp the whole of society and experience into one varied but unified work.

Honoré de Balzac

Honoré de Balzac was a French novelist and playwright. The novel sequence La Comédie humaine, which presents a panorama of post-Napoleonic French life, is generally view as his magnum opus.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges: 

Books About Art and Artists

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