Page:Stories by Foreign Authors (French III).djvu/28

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
18
THE HIDDEN MASTERPIECE.

from the window in the roof, which fell full on the pale face of Porbus and on the ivory skull of his singular visitor.

The attention of the young man was taken exclusively by a picture destined to become famous after those days of tumult and revolution, and which even then was precious in the sight of certain opinionated individuals to whom we owe the preservation of the divine afflatus through the dark days when the life of art was in jeopardy. This noble picture represents the Mary of Egypt as she prepares to pay for her passage by the ship. It is a masterpiece, painted for Marie de Medicis, and afterwards sold by her in the days of her distress.

"I like your saint," said the old man to Porbus, "and I will give you ten golden crowns over and above the queen's offer; but as to entering into competition with her—the devil!"

"You do like her, then?"

"As for that," said the old man, "yes, and no. The good woman is well set-up, but—she is not living. You young men think you have done all when you have drawn the form correctly, and put everything in place according to the laws of anatomy. You color the features with flesh-tones,—mixed beforehand on your palette,—taking very good care to shade one side of the face darker than the other; and because you draw now and then from a nude woman stand-