The Masterpiece Background

The Masterpiece Background

L'œuvre is a French novel by Emile Zola, loosely translated as His Masterpiece or The Masterpiece. The Masterpiece was published as a serial in 1885 and as a novel by Charpentier in 1886. The title is a reference to the problems the protagonist has creating a work of art accurately reflecting his skill. It is the fourteenth book of Emile Zola's Les Rougon-Macquart series.

The Masterpiece is fictional novel loosely based on the friendship between Emile Zola and Paul Cezanne. It's depiction of the Parisan art world in the 19th century is quite precise. The protagonist, Claude Lantier, is a revolutionary artist who possesses many attributes based on various impressionist painters including Paul Cezanne himself.

The novel, while well-received, was taken personally by Cezanne and it effectively destroyed the friendship between him and Zola. Apart from a letter which Cezanne sent to thank Zola for sending him a copy of the novel, there is no other recorded communication between the two.

The novel was translated to English in 1886 and was reprinted by Barnes and Noble in 2006.

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