The old neglected palazzo, with its lofty carved ceilings and
frescoes on the walls, with its floors of mosaic, with its heavy
yellow stuff curtains on the windows, with its vases on
pedestals, and its open fireplaces, its carved doors and gloomy
reception rooms, hung with pictures--this palazzo did much, by
its very appearance after they had moved into it, to confirm in
Vronsky the agreeable illusion that he was not so much a Russian
country gentleman, a retired army officer, as an enlightened
amateur and patron of the arts, himself a modest artist who had
renounced the world, his connections, and his ambition for the
sake of the woman he loved.
The pose chosen by Vronsky with their removal into the palazzo
was completely successful, and having, through Golenishtchev,
made acquaintance with a few interesting people, for a time he
was satisfied. He painted studies from nature under the guidance
of an Italian professor of painting, and studied medieval
Italian life. Medieval Italian life so fascinated Vronsky that
he even wore a hat and flung a cloak over his shoulder in the
medieval style, which, indeed, was extremely becoming to him.
"Here we live, and know nothing of what's going on," Vronsky said
to Golenishtchev as he came to see him one morning. "Have you
seen Mihailov's picture?" he said, handing him a Russian gazette
he had received that morning, and pointing to an article on a
Russian artist, living in the very same town, and just finishing
a picture which had long been talked about, and had been bought
beforehand. The article reproached the government and the
academy for letting so remarkable an artist be left without
encouragement and support.
"I've seen it," answered Golenishtchev. "Of course, he's not
without talent, but it's all in a wrong direction. It's all the
Ivanov-Strauss-Renan attitude to Christ and to religious
"What is the subject of the picture?" asked Anna.
"Christ before Pilate. Christ is represented as a Jew with all
the realism of the new school."
And the question of the subject of the picture having brought him
to one of his favorite theories, Golenishtchev launched forth
into a disquisition on it.