The Wandering Jew — Complete eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,953 pages of information about The Wandering Jew — Complete.
thus gained access to it two or three times in a century.  Absorbed in these thoughts Samuel approached the fireplace, which, as we have said, was directly opposite the window.  Just then, a bright ray of sunlight, piercing the clouds, shone full upon two large portraits, hung upon either side of the fireplace, and not before remarked by the Jew.  They were painted life size, and represented one a woman, the other a man.  By the sober yet powerful coloring of these paintings, by the large and vigorous style, it was easy to recognize a master’s hand.  It would have been difficult to find models more fitted to inspire a great painter.  The woman appeared to be from five-and-twenty to thirty years of age.  Magnificent brown hair, with golden tints, crooned a forehead, white, noble, and lofty.  Her head-dress, far from recalling the fashion, which Madame de Sevigne brought in during the age of Louis XIV., reminded one rather of some of the portraits of Paul Veronese, in which the hair encircles the face in broad, undulating bands, surmounted by a thick plait, like a crown, at the back of the head.  The eyebrows, finely pencilled, were arched over large eyes of bright, sapphire blue.  Their gaze at once proud and mournful, had something fatal about it.  The nose, finely formed, terminated in slight dilated nostrils:  a half smile, almost of pain, contracted the mouth; the face was a long oval, and the complexion, extremely pale, was hardly shaded on the cheek by a light rose-color.  The position of the head and neck announced a rare mixture of grace and dignity.  A sort of tunic or robe, of glossy black material, came as high as the commencement of her shoulders, and just marking her lithe and tall figure, reached down to her feet, which were almost entirely concealed by the folds of this garment.

The attitude was full of nobleness and simplicity.  The head looked white and luminous, standing out from a dark gray sky, marbled at the horizon by purple clouds, upon which were visible the bluish summits of distant hills, in deep shadow.  The arrangement of the picture, as well as the warm tints of the foreground, contrasting strongly with these distant objects, showed that the woman was placed upon an eminence, from which she could view the whole horizon.  The countenance was deeply pensive and desponding.  There was an expression of supplicating and resigned grief, particularly in her look, half raised to heaven, which one would have thought impossible to picture.  On the left side of the fireplace was the other portrait, painted with like vigor.  It represented a man, between thirty and thirty-five years of age, of tall stature.  A large brown cloak, which hung round him in graceful folds, did not quite conceal a black doublet, buttoned up to the neck, over which fell a square white collar.  The handsome and expressive head was marked with stern powerful lines, which did not exclude an admirable air of suffering, resignation, and ineffable goodness.  The hair, as well as the beard and eyebrows, was black; and the latter, by some singular caprice of nature, instead of being separated and forming two distinct arches, extended from one temple to the other, in a single bow, and seemed to mark the forehead of this man with a black line.

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The Wandering Jew — Complete from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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