Pierre Grassou, by Honoré de Balzac

Pierre Grassou

Pierre Grassou is a very short story from Balzac’s La Comedie Humaine.

Grassou, despite tuition from expert artists and a willingness to take advice, is an artist of little merit. He is exploited by a dealer who encourages him to copy the style of the masters and sells these pictures at a profit. Very little of this comes to Grassou, but by living frugally and saving prudently, he avoids penury and is even able to make a good match.

This story provides Balzac with an opportunity to snipe at the way artistic standards have slipped at the Salon since the Revolution.

Read it here

This very short summary is by Lisa Hill, who read Pierre Grassou in March 2010.


2 comments on “Pierre Grassou, by Honoré de Balzac

  1. scamperpb says:

    Pierre becomes successful through determination and a lack of taste by the bourgeois. But he feels a bit sad because he really wanted to excel and knows he hasn’t the talent to be first class. Never mind, he’s got the coveted Legion of Honor and no doubt will get other honors. Is Balzac criticizing those who award fame to artists, and is this a personal statement about hs own success of lack thereof?


  2. monsieurarkadin says:

    I know that I’m the better part of a decade too late, but…
    Pierre Grassou seemed like an anxiety riddled self-portrait of Balzac to me. His physical description is even quite similar to that of Balzac, as are his rigorous and disciplined working habits. It’s also ironic that Balzac himself would go on, just a few years after the publication of this story, to receive the Legion D’honneur. But the portrayal is constantly alternating between loathing and loving, and feels much more like self-criticism than any other character I have seen the Comedie Humaine.

    Liked by 1 person

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