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The Portrait

by Iain Pears

The easy going, chummy, men-of-the-world style of the narrator is there to lull you into a familiarity with the art world of late Victorian London. He conveys the feel as brilliantly as his contemporaries, the Impressionists. But beware: his painting technique has changed. His latest portrait is going through the surface to a deeply rotting soul.

Extract

On the nail. She had an intuitive intelligence far beyond my range. She saw, she commented, and she never let any analytical process interfere with the immediacy of her opinions. She was a sort of intellectual Impressionist, if you like, slapping down raw insight with a freshness that was almost unnerving in that overcerebral world. I fear her wisdom was not received with the appreciation that was its due that evening, as the words hit me in the stomach like a punch. All of a sudden I was no longer part of an eager company of progressive painters, part of the new radicalism. I was a stranger in a crowd, whose only human contact was a female equestrian of uncertain age from Suffolk.

Parallels

The Black Monk by Anton Chekhov
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
The Flanders Panel by Arturo Perez-Reverte
 

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