Pierre Grassou is an 1839 novel by French
The French are a nation that share a common French culture and speak the French language as a mother tongue. Historically, the French population are descended from peoples of Celtic, Latin and Germanic origin, and are today a mixture of several ethnic groups...
author Honoré de Balzac
Honoré de Balzac
Honoré de Balzac was a French novelist and playwright. His magnum opus was a sequence of short stories and novels collectively entitled La Comédie humaine, which presents a panorama of French life in the years after the 1815 fall of Napoleon....
(1799-1850) and included in the Scènes de la vie parisienne section of his novel sequence La Comédie humaine
La Comédie humaine
La Comédie humaine is the title of Honoré de Balzac's multi-volume collection of interlinked novels and stories depicting French society in the period of the Restoration and the July Monarchy .-Overview:...
PlotPierre Grassou de Fougères
Fougères is a commune and a sub-prefecture of the Ille-et-Vilaine department in Brittany, in north-western France.-Sights:Fougères' major monument is a medieval stronghold built atop a granite ledge, which was part of the ultimately unsuccessful defence system of the Duchy of Brittany against...
is a mediocre painter who lives off painting forgeries commissioned by an old swindler and art-dealer named Elias Magus. Grassou paints forgeries of works by Titian
Tiziano Vecelli or Tiziano Vecellio Tiziano Vecelli or Tiziano Vecellio Tiziano Vecelli or Tiziano Vecellio (c. 1488/1490 – 27 August 1576 better known as Titian was an Italian painter, the most important member of the 16th-century Venetian school. He was born in Pieve di Cadore, near...
Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino , better known simply as Raphael, was an Italian painter and architect of the High Renaissance. His work is admired for its clarity of form and ease of composition and for its visual achievement of the Neoplatonic ideal of human grandeur...
, and other famous artists. Magus resells these forgeries for a large profit to members of the Petite bourgeoisie
Petit-bourgeois or petty bourgeois is a term that originally referred to the members of the lower middle social classes in the 18th and early 19th centuries...
who are incapable of appreciating good art.
Monsieur Vervelle, a prosperous bottle-dealer obsessed with art, is introduced to Grassou by Magus, who introduces the painter as a grand master. Vervelle and his wife are enchanted with Grassou and believe he would make a good match for their daughter Virginie.
Grassou is invited to Ville-d'Avray
Ville-d'Avray is a commune in the western suburbs of Paris, France. It is located from the center of Paris. The commune is served by the Boulogne-Billancourt prefecture, of the Hauts-de-Seine department.-Transport:...
, where the Vervelle mansion is garishly decorated, and also includes a large collection of Grassou’s work, including the forgery of a Titian. Grassou recognizes his own mediocrity, but when it is discovered by the Vervelles that the forgeries in their home were painted by Grassou, “far from denting his reputation, multiples Grassou’s value as an artist” and as a son-in-law, since Vervelle believes Grassou to possess all the combined talent of Rubens
Rubens is often used to refer to Peter Paul Rubens , the Flemish artist.Rubens may also refer to:- People :Family name* Paul Rubens Rubens is often used to refer to Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640), the Flemish artist.Rubens may also refer to:- People :Family name* Paul Rubens (composer) Rubens is...
, Rembrandt, Terburg
Gerard ter Borch
Gerard ter Borch was a Dutch genre painter, who lived in the Dutch Golden Age.-Biography:Gerard ter Borch was born in December 1617 in Zwolle in the province of Overijssel in the Dutch Republic....
, and Titian.
Despite his advantageous marriage, Grassou remains bitter that he is not a true artist. “This painter, a good father and a good husband, is unable to eradicate from his heart a fatal thought, namely, that artists laugh at his work; that his name is a term of contempt in the studios; and that the feuilletons
Feuilleton was originally a kind of supplement attached to the political portion of French newspapers, consisting chiefly of non-political news and gossip, literature and art criticism, a chronicle of the latest fashions, and epigrams, charades and other literary trifles...
take no notice of his pictures. But he still works on; he aims for the Academy
Académie de peinture et de sculpture
The Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture , Paris, was founded in 1648, modelled on Italian examples, such as the Accademia di San Luca in Rome. Paris already had the Académie de Saint-Luc, which was a city artist guild like any other Guild of Saint Luke...
, where, undoubtedly, he will enter."