The Picture by Alexander Kuprin

Russian LiteratureChildren BooksRussian PoetryAlexander Kuprin – The Picture – Contents

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Rozanof’s picture was the outcome of the highest inspiration and art. It showed St. Barbara kneeling before the lepers and bathing their terrible feet, her face radiant and joyful, and of an unearthly beauty. The lepers looked at her in prayerful ecstasy and inexpressible gratitude. The picture was a marvel. Rozanof had designed it for an exhibition, but the newspapers proclaimed its fame beforehand. The public flocked to the artist’s studio. People came, looked at St. Barbara and the lepers, and stood there for an hour or more. And even those who knew nothing about art were moved to tears. An English-man, who was in Moscow at the time, a Mr. Bradley, offered fifteen thousand roubles for the picture as soon as he looked at it. Rozanof, however, would not agree to sell it.

But something strange was happening to the prince at that time. He went about with a sullen look, seemed to get thinner, and talked to no one. He took to drink. Rozanof tried to get him to talk, but he only got rude answers, and when the public had left the studio, the prince would seat himself before the easel and remain there for hours, immovable, gazing at the holy Barbara, gazing….

So it went on for more than a fortnight, and then something unexpected happened—to tell the truth, something dreadful.

Rozanof came home one day and asked if Prince Andrey were in. The servant said that the prince had gone out very early that morning, and had left a note.

The artist took the note and read it. And this was what was written. “Forgive my terrible action. I was mad, and in a moment I have repented of my deed. I am going away, never to return, because I haven’t strength to kill myself.” The note was signed with his name.

Then the artist understood it all. He rushed into his studio and found his divine work lying on the floor, torn to pieces, trampled upon, cut into shreds with a knife….

Then he began to weep, and said:

“I’m not sorry for the picture, but for him. Why couldn’t he tell me what was in his mind? I would have sold the picture at once, or given it away to someone.”

But nothing more was ever heard of Prince Andrey, and no one knew how he lived after his mad deed.

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Russian LiteratureChildren BooksRussian PoetryAlexander Kuprin – The Picture – Contents

Copyright holders –  Public Domain Book

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