First published in the newly-created journal L’Artiste in 1831, and reworked in 1837, Le Chef-d’œuvre inconnu by Honoré de Balzac (1799–1850) is a short story or récit that the author grouped together in his collected Comédie humaine under the heading “Études philosophiques”. Because it is concerned with artistic production (specifically painting), Balzac associated it with two other stories that also explore the creative process, Gambara (1837) and Massimilla Doni (1839) (which concern the composition and performance of music). For Balzac, artistic expression of all kinds represents human thought and feeling pushed to the extreme. In these texts (and others), Balzac explores the m…

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Gerwin, Elisabeth. "Chef d'oeuvre inconnu". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 23 July 2013
[, accessed 30 September 2016.]