Honore de Balzac's story Le Chef-d'oeuvre inconnu ( The Unknown Masterpiece, 1 8 3 1 ) is perhaps the earliest French literary text to wrestle with the Realist image of the posing model, as opposed to the Romantic image of the model as muse. The artist is an important and recurring character in Balzac's oeuvre, Le Comedie humaine (The Human Comedy) , but models are few and far between, and it is Gillette who comes to mind when one aims to uncover this writer's views on the female poser. Gillette, who allows her lover-artist Poussin to trade her body for a glimpse of the unknown masterpiece, incarnates the young and naive but ultimately wise, beautiful but poor model of Balzac's Paris, although the story is set in 1 6 1 2 . This is the grisette model, the muse brought down from her pedestal and clothed in working-class garb. When Gillette is forgotten and forsaken at the end of the tale, the reader may suspect that the same ending would be used by writers who followed in Balzac's footsteps - and it was.