Anna Karenina Part 5, Chapter 9 Summary
by Leo Tolstoy

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Part 5, Chapter 9 Summary

The old palazzo into which Levin and Anna Karenina are moving is old but grand in an Italian way. This setting allows Vronsky to imagine himself less as a Russian count than an Italian patron of the arts. He has abandoned everything to pursue his two passions: his art and the woman he loves.

Vronsky is satisfied for awhile, studying Medieval Italian life and painting under the guidance of an Italian professor of painting. One morning, Golenishtchev comes to visit and asks Vronsky if he has seen a painting by Mihailov, an artist who is living in the same town. Mihailov has just finished a painting which has been talked about for a long time and bought before it was ever finished. A newspaper article scolded the Russian government for allowing such a remarkable artist to leave without any enticement or encouragement to stay.

Golenishtchev praises the artist’s talent while dismissing the subject matter which he has painted, launching into a complicated argument about why he should not have painted Christ as a Jew before Pilate. Vronsky interrupts to ask if Mihailov is poor, thinking it is his duty to offer assistance to a fellow artist and countryman whether his work is good or bad. Golenishtchev tells him Mihailov is a remarkable portrait-painter, though he is no longer interested in that kind of work and is therefore likely to be in some financial need.

Vronsky immediately suggests that perhaps Mihailov would be interested in painting Anna Karenina’s portrait; she demurs and says she wants no other portrait than the one he painted for her. She would, however, be interested in having their daughter’s portrait painted. Just then the child’s Italian nurse is walking toward them, baby Anna (“Annie”) in her arms. Anna Karenina looks surreptitiously at Vronsky, but he has not noticed them through the window.

This pretty nurse is the one hidden grief in Anna Karenina’s otherwise happy life. Vronsky uses this nurse as his painting model, admiring her beauty and her “medievalism.” Anna Karenina does not confess, even to herself, that she is jealous of this young country girl...

(The entire section is 540 words.)