Anna Karenina Part 5, Chapter 11 Summary
by Leo Tolstoy

Start Your Free Trial

Download Anna Karenina Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Part 5, Chapter 11 Summary

As Mihailov admits the visitors into his studio, he captures subtle mental impressions of each of them. He remembers Golenishtchev, though he does not remember the man’s name, where they met, or what either of them said. All Mihailov remembers is his face, just as he remembers all the faces he has ever seen. The one thing he does remember about Golenishtchev’s face is that it belongs to the immense class of men who are “falsely consequential and poor in expression.”

Vronsky and Anna Karenina seem to Mihailov to be distinguished and wealthy Russians who know nothing about art, posing as connoisseurs. He assumes they have probably already examined everything in the world of antiques and are now beginning their foray into the studios of certain artists. Mihailov is quite familiar with such dilettantes. They come to examine works of art with the sole object of comparing them to the works of the Masters and claim all modern works are unworthy of the title “art.”

This is what Mihailov is expecting from these three visitors; he sees it in their careless indifference as they talk to one another while contemplating his displayed works and wait for him to uncover the painting. Mihailov prepares to unveil his masterpiece for what he assumes to be “beasts and fools,” yet he likes Vronsky and Anna Karenina despite himself. He reveals his painting and stands behind them, lips trembling.

As the visitors gaze at the painting for the first time, Mihailov, too, looks at the canvas with the indifferent eye of an outsider. Forgetting his base thoughts about their character, he believes for a moment that these three Russians will offer him high criticism; forgetting the three years of working on this piece, Mihailov sees nothing but a poorly executed, weak painting. Even the minute of silence is intolerable to him, and he speaks some inanity simply to get his guests talking, preparing himself for their criticism.

Golenishtchev tells Mihailov that he has done much work on the painting since he saw it last and that he has captured Pilate’s demeanor as an official who does not know what he is doing. Though he has a low opinion...

(The entire section is 555 words.)