Pablo Picasso: Honoré de Balzac

Pablo Picasso was so enamored by the works of the 19th-century writer and playwright Honoré de Balzac that the artist even believed himself to be haunted by Balzac’s ghost. Picasso’s fascination with the Frenchman bordered on obsession—when Picasso needed a new studio in 1937, he chose to move into a 17th-century townhouse at 7 Rue des Grands-Augustin in Paris, the very same flat where Balzac sets the opening scene to his macabre story, The Hidden Masterpiece. Throughout his career, Picasso paid homage to the writer—from cheeky illustrations for Balzac’s short story Le Chef-d’œuvre Inconnu to lithographs portraying Balzac in caricature. Knowing the artist’s soft spot for the writer, in 1954 the Paris-based printing workshop Verve commissioned the artist to illustrate Balzac’s masterwork, La Comédie Humaine. …

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