Bassanio describes Portia's portrait in enraptured tones, although he recognizes it as only a faint imitation of her.
After deliberating between caskets, Bassanio finally opens the one made of lead; as he lifts the lid and sees the portrait of Portia, he exclaims,
Hath come so near creation?
(Act III, Scene 2, line 119)
Overwhelmed by his fortune and Portia's painted beauty, Bassanio describes her portrait as "near creation," meaning the portrait seems almost real, real enough that Bassanio wonders aloud if a half-divine painter created it. Portia's eyes appear to be actually moving. Her sweet breath seems to part her lips. So alive does this painting seem that Portia's beautiful golden hair is described as a "golden mesh t'entrap the hearts of men" (Act III, Scene 2, line 122). Again, Bassanio returns to looking at Portia's eyes, which are so mesmerizing that Bassanio wonders how the painter was able to portray them, as he thinks the completion of the first eye would have so enraptured the painter that he would not be able to paint the other. Indeed, it is only Bassanio's discovery of the scroll and realization that this portrait is but an imitation that break him away from his enthrallment.