Picasso Block


Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850), Le chef-d’oeuvre inconnu (The Unknown Masterpiece) (Paris: Vollard, 1931). 13 etchings and 67 woodcuts by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973). Copy no. 154 of 340, with an additional suite of 13 etchings. Book is a gift of Monroe Wheeler. Graphic Arts collection GAX oversize PQ2163.C4 1931q. Block is a gift of Elizabeth Roth in honor of Karl Kup.

Le chef-d’oeuvre inconnu is a short story by Honoré de Balzac, which was originally called “Maître Frenhofer” or “Master Frenhofer” when it was published in 1831. The character of Frenhofer is a painter who has been working on the same painting for ten years. Over that time, he develops a complex relationship with his model who is also his mistress. The story ends sadly, with the artist burning his canvas before he dies.

In 1927, the French art dealer and publisher Ambroise Vollard commissioned Picasso to illustrate a deluxe edition of Balzac’s text, intended for fine art print collectors. Picasso connected with the story on a very deep level, to the point that he moved his studio to the street where the hero of the story had lived. On the centenary of the story, the Picasso/Balzac edition was released.

Along with this masterpiece in 20th-century book design, the collection of graphic arts holds a woodblock designed by Picasso for Le chef-d’oeuvre inconnu that was never included in the published edition.


does anyone know the price level of individual prints from the Balzac etchings series? I have been offered one called 'Peintre devant son tableau' for CHF 5000 , app. US$ 4,800.
Is that reasonable?


i would like to know if my print of the dot and line drawing, which appears in the unknown masterpiece has value. it was bought in 1971 at an art auction for 110 dollars. it is in mint condition.

i need to ammend my question. picasso's dot and line drawing (i referred to this drawing in my previous email) is part of the "guitar series" that appears in "the unknown masterpiece" 1931 edition. My print is a picture of two guitars but framed in a way that makes it look like it could be part of a lady in a gown. it was bought at an art auction, unsigned, in 1971. does it have any value?