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Original Writing: The Oval Portrait

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The Oval Portrait The chateau into which my mistress had ventured for me to make forceful entrance, rather than to allow me, in my seriously injured condition, to spend a night in the open air, was one of those masses of intertwined gloom and grandeur which have so long frowned among the Alps, not less in fact than in the fancy of Mrs. Bouchomps. To all appearance it had been temporarily and very lately abandoned. We established ourselves in one of the smallest and least lavishly furnished apartments. It lay in a remote tower of the building. Its decorations were rich, yet worn and antique. Its walls were hung with beautiful tapestry and bedecked with armorial trophies, together with an unusually great number of very spirited modern paintings in frames which had a feeling of Arabia. In these paintings my initial frenzy, perhaps, had caused me to take deep interest, so that I bade Georgina to close the heavy shutters of the room. I wished all this done that I might retire, if not to sleep, at least alternately to the study of these pictures, and the examination of a small novel which had been found upon the pillow, and which alleged to criticise and describe them. ...read more.


The arms, the bosom, and even the ends of the radiant hair melted imperceptibly into the vague yet deep shadow which formed the back-ground of the whole. The frame was oval, richly gilded. As a thing of art nothing could be more admirable than the painting itself. But it could have been neither the execution of the work, nor the immortal beauty of the countenance, which had so suddenly and so passionately moved me. Least of all, could it have been that my fancy, shaken from its half slumber, had mistaken the head for that of a living person. I saw at once that the peculiarities of the design, of the piece itself, and of the frame, must have instantly dispelled such idea- must have prevented even its momentary entertainment. Thinking earnestly upon these points, I remained, for an hour perhaps, half sitting, half reclining, with my vision riveted upon the portrait. At length, satisfied with the true secret of its effect, I fell back within the bed. I had found the spell of the picture in an absolute life-likeliness of expression, which, at first startling, finally confounded, subdued, and appalled me. ...read more.


But at length, as the labour drew nearer to its conclusion, there were admitted none into the turret, for the painter had grown wild with the ardour of his work, and turned his eyes from canvas merely, even to regard the countenance of his wife. And he would not see that the tints which he spread upon the canvas were drawn from the cheeks of her who sate beside him. And when many weeks bad passed, and but little remained to do, save one brush upon the mouth and one tint upon the eye, the spirit of the lady again flickered up as the flame within the socket of the lamp. And then the brush was given, and then the tint was placed, and, for one moment, the painter stood entranced before the work which he had wrought, but in the next, while he yet gazed, he grew tremulous and very pallid, and aghast, and crying with a loud voice, 'This is indeed life itself!' turned suddenly to regard his beloved: - She was no more! Jaymin Patel English Ms Sale ...read more.

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