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Masters and Servants

Pierre Michon, translated by Wyatt Mason | October 22, 2013


One of Pierre Michon’s most powerful works, this book imagines decisive moments in the lives of five artists of different times and places: Vincent van Gogh, Francisco Goya, Antoine Watteau, Claude Lorrain, and Lorentino, a little-remembered disciple of Piero della Francesca. Michon focuses on particular moments when artist and model collide, whether that model is a person or a landscape, inner or outer. In the five separate tales he evokes the full passion of the artist’s struggle to capture the world in images even as the world resists capture. Each story is a small masterpiece that transcends national boundaries and earns its place among the essential works of world literature.



Pierre Michon is an author of high acclaim in France and Europe. He was winner of the Prix France Culture in 1984 for his first book, Small Lives, and of the 1996 Prix de la Ville de Paris for his body of work. He lives in France.

Wyatt Mason, a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a contributing editor at Harper's, has translated writing by Pierre Michon, Eric Chevillard, Michel de Montaigne, and Arthur Rimbaud. He teaches at Bard College.