Image of the Week: Portrait of a frustrated artist

This week’s image is taken from Chapter 17 of  Katherine Cecil Thurston’s beautifully illustrated novel Max (1910). It is one of eight illustrations by the British painter and illustrator Frank Craig (1874-1918). The image effectively captures Max’s growing frustration at the quality of his/her latest work and captures the moments leading up to a heated exchange between the budding artist and his/her companion and later love-interest, Edward Blake.

Original Title: “Look! This is what I shall do. This!” – Image taken from the Project Gutenberg eBook

“…I love my work so truly that I have set it upon an altar and made it my religion! And when I find, as to-day, that it fails me I am damned–my soul is lost!”

“And why does it fail you–to-day?”

“I do not know!”

“Is that the truth?”

“Yes, it is.”

“Are you perfectly sure? Are you perfectly sure that ’tisn’t I–my presence here–?”

“You?” Max withered him with a scorn meant for himself as well.

“You rate yourself high, my friend, and you imagine my work a very trivial thing!”

“Nonsense! Plenty of artists must have solitude.”

“Plenty of fools! An artist is engrossed in his art so perfectly that when he stands before his canvas no world exists but the world of his imagination. Do you suppose me to be affected because you sit somewhere in the background, smoking over the fire? Oh, no! I trust I have more capacity to concentrate!”

He shrugged his shoulders to the ears; he raised his eyebrows in the very elaboration of indifference.

Blake, hot as he in pride or anger, caught sudden fire.

“Upon my soul, you’re damned complimentary! I think, if you have no objection, I’ll be wishing you good-day!” He picked up his hat, and strode to the door.

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