The Mysterious Portrait by Nicolai Gogol | A Wicked Story about the Social Greed of a Young Painter | The Cave of Apelles

What happens when a young painter, on the brink of economic ruin, comes into a lot of money?
Bork Nerdrum and Jan-Ove Tuv sit down to review Nicolai Gogol’s short story “The Mysterious Portrait”.

Topics from the conversation:

  • Tchartkoff stumbling upon the portrait in a picture shop
  • Discovering thousand gold coins in the back of the frame
  • Giving up the craft to become a high society portrait painter
  • Realizing he wasted his talent, he starts destroying other people’s work
  • “The Devil” — a usurer destroying the life of all his clients
  • Has his portrait commissioned by a religious painter to be “kept alive”
  • The painter becomes envious and starts painting evil expressions
  • The portrait ruins anyone who possesses it
  • “The Devil” is the lack of interest in your work
  • People who are afraid are easily tempted by the Devil
  • Are you integrated and can you stand on your own feet?


▶ Full video:
🎵 Full audio:

The conversation was produced by Bork S. Nerdrum and assisted by Cassander Straumsgaard and Kristine Onsrud.
The centerpiece was a 19th century reproduction of G. F. Watts’ Hope.

Fergus Ryan
Shaun Roberts
Matthias Proy
Viorel Trandafir
Børge Moe
Jon Harald Aspheim
Dean Anthony
Alastair Blain
Anders Berge Christensen
Eivind Josten
Erik Lasky
Fernando Ramirez
Francisco Salvacao
Hårek Jordal Andreassen
Iver Ukkestad
Jack Entz Warner
Jared Fountain
Marion Bu-Pedersen
Maurice Robbins
Michael Irish
Stacey Evangelista
Tonelise Rugaas
Trym Jordahl
Yngve Hellan


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  • Apelles was asked why he touched and retouched his pictures with so much care, to which he replied:
    "I paint for eternity"