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Gogol's "The Portrait" and Russian Orthodox Iconography

Author(s): Eliot Stempf

Journal: Vestnik : The Journal of Russian and Asian Studies
ISSN 1930-286X

Volume: 1;
Issue: 8;
Start page: 79;
Date: 2010;
Original page

Keywords: Gogol | portrait | old believer | schism | orthodoxy | literature

Nikolai Gogol's "The Portrait" is a short story about art. First written in 1835 and then significantly revised in 1842, the work explores a central concern in Romantic aesthetics: the role of the artist and his creation. Through a series of ekphrases, i.e. literary representations of visual art, the narrative of "The Portrait" examines the act of representational painting in all of its constituent parts: the psychological condition of the artist, the manner of painting (or its formal qualities), the possible subjects of representation, and, finally, its impact upon the viewer.
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