Anna karenina, p.134
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       Anna Karenina, p.134

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 10

  The artist Mihailov was, as always, at work when the cards of CountVronsky and Golenishtchev were brought to him. In the morning he hadbeen working in his studio at his big picture. On getting home he flewinto a rage with his wife for not having managed to put off thelandlady, who had been asking for money.

  "I've said it to you twenty times, don't enter into details. You're foolenough at all times, and when you start explaining things in Italianyou're a fool three times as foolish," he said after a long dispute.

  "Don't let it run so long; it's not my fault. If I had the money..."

  "Leave me in peace, for God's sake!" Mihailov shrieked, with tears inhis voice, and, stopping his ears, he went off into his working room,the other side of a partition wall, and closed the door after him."Idiotic woman!" he said to himself, sat down to the table, and, openinga portfolio, he set to work at once with peculiar fervor at a sketch hehad begun.

  Never did he work with such fervor and success as when things went illwith him, and especially when he quarreled with his wife. "Oh! damn themall!" he thought as he went on working. He was making a sketch for thefigure of a man in a violent rage. A sketch had been made before, but hewas dissatisfied with it. "No, that one was better ... where is it?" Hewent back to his wife, and scowling, and not looking at her, asked hiseldest little girl, where was that piece of paper he had given them? Thepaper with the discarded sketch on it was found, but it was dirty, andspotted with candle-grease. Still, he took the sketch, laid it on histable, and, moving a little away, screwing up his eyes, he fell togazing at it. All at once he smiled and gesticulated gleefully.

  "That's it! that's it!" he said, and, at once picking up the pencil, hebegan rapidly drawing. The spot of tallow had given the man a new pose.

  He had sketched this new pose, when all at once he recalled the face ofa shopkeeper of whom he had bought cigars, a vigorous face with aprominent chin, and he sketched this very face, this chin on to thefigure of the man. He laughed aloud with delight. The figure from alifeless imagined thing had become living, and such that it could neverbe changed. That figure lived, and was clearly and unmistakably defined.The sketch might be corrected in accordance with the requirements of thefigure, the legs, indeed, could and must be put differently, and theposition of the left hand must be quite altered; the hair too might bethrown back. But in making these corrections he was not altering thefigure but simply getting rid of what concealed the figure. He was, asit were, stripping off the wrappings which hindered it from beingdistinctly seen. Each new feature only brought out the whole figure inall its force and vigor, as it had suddenly come to him from the spot oftallow. He was carefully finishing the figure when the cards werebrought him.

  "Coming, coming!"

  He went in to his wife.

  "Come, Sasha, don't be cross!" he said, smiling timidly andaffectionately at her. "You were to blame. I was to blame. I'll make itall right." And having made peace with his wife he put on an olive-greenovercoat with a velvet collar and a hat, and went towards his studio.The successful figure he had already forgotten. Now he was delighted andexcited at the visit of these people of consequence, Russians, who hadcome in their carriage.

  Of his picture, the one that stood now on his easel, he had at thebottom of his heart one conviction--that no one had ever painted apicture like it. He did not believe that his picture was better than allthe pictures of Raphael, but he knew that what he tried to convey inthat picture, no one ever had conveyed. This he knew positively, and hadknown a long while, ever since he had begun to paint it. But otherpeople's criticisms, whatever they might be, had yet immense consequencein his eyes, and they agitated him to the depths of his soul. Anyremark, the most insignificant, that showed that the critic saw even thetiniest part of what he saw in the picture, agitated him to the depthsof his soul. He always attributed to his critics a more profoundcomprehension than he had himself, and always expected from themsomething he did not himself see in the picture. And often in theircriticisms he fancied that he had found this.

  He walked rapidly to the door of his studio, and in spite of hisexcitement he was struck by the soft light on Anna's figure as she stoodin the shade of the entrance listening to Golenishtchev, who was eagerlytelling her something, while she evidently wanted to look round at theartist. He was himself unconscious how, as he approached them, he seizedon this impression and absorbed it, as he had the chin of the shopkeeperwho had sold him the cigars, and put it away somewhere to be brought outwhen he wanted it. The visitors, not agreeably impressed beforehand byGolenishtchev's account of the artist, were still less so by hispersonal appearance. Thick-set and of middle height, with nimblemovements, with his brown hat, olive-green coat and narrowtrousers--though wide trousers had been a long while in fashion,--mostof all, with the ordinariness of his broad face, and the combinedexpression of timidity and anxiety to keep up his dignity, Mihailov madean unpleasant impression.

  "Please step in," he said, trying to look indifferent, and going intothe passage he took a key out of his pocket and opened the door.

 
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