"How marvelous Christ's expression is!" said Anna. Of all she
saw she liked that expression most of all, and she felt that it
was the center of the picture, and so praise of it would be
pleasant to the artist. "One can see that He is pitying Pilate."
This again was one of the million true reflections that could be
found in his picture and in the figure of Christ. She said that
He was pitying Pilate. In Christ's expression there ought to be
indeed an expression of pity, since there is an expression of
love, of heavenly peace, of readiness for death, and a sense of
the vanity of words. Of course there is the expression of an
official in Pilate and of pity in Christ, seeing that one is the
incarnation of the fleshly and the other of the spiritual life.
All this and much more flashed into Mihailov's thoughts.
"Yes, and how that figure is done--what atmosphere! One can walk
round it," said Golenishtchev, unmistakably betraying by this
remark that he did not approve of the meaning and idea of the
"Yes, there's a wonderful mastery!" said Vronsky. "How those
figures in the background stand out! There you have technique,"
he said, addressing Golenishtchev, alluding to a conversation
between them about Vronsky's despair of attaining this technique.
"Yes, yes, marvelous!" Golenishtchev and Anna assented. In spite
of the excited condition in which he was, the sentence about
technique had sent a pang to Mihailov's heart, and looking
angrily at Vronsky he suddenly scowled. He had often heard this
word technique, and was utterly unable to understand what was
understood by it. He knew that by this term was understood a
mechanical facility for painting or drawing, entirely apart from
its subject. He had noticed often that even in actual praise
technique was opposed to essential quality, as though one could
paint well something that was bad. He knew that a great deal of
attention and care was necessary in taking off the coverings, to
avoid injuring the creation itself, and to take off all the
coverings; but there was no art of painting--no technique of any
sort--about it. If to a little child or to his cook were
revealed what he saw, it or she would have been able to peel the
wrappings off what was seen. And the most experienced and adroit
painter could not by mere mechanical facility paint anything if
the lines of the subject were not revealed to him first.
Besides, he saw that if it came to talking about technique, it
was impossible to praise him for it. In all he had painted and
repainted he saw faults that hurt his eyes, coming from want of
care in taking off the wrappings--faults he could not correct now
without spoiling the whole. And in almost all the figures and
faces he saw, too, remnants of the wrappings not perfectly
removed that spoiled the picture.