Loeb Danish Ardt Collection - page 285

viewer. When the
fi
fteen-year-old girl becomes a girl of twenty, the magic that resides in her picture
will perhaps be gone—it will be gone when the passion slumbering in the tightly closed bud breaks
out as with
fl
aming rose petals, and the chaste modesty that subdues the
fi
re of her eye and tightly
encloses the golden dress over the maidenly breast falls like the veil that gives a special charm to a
half-fancy. This is the characteristic feature in my little Oriental Jewish girl with the eyes of a gazelle
and the tuberose in her black plaits.
But her toilette! Each time it took between an hour and a half and two hours to arrange it. I pre-
sented myself at my fair young lady’s home at eight o’clock. She was not ready until ten o’clock, as
all the tiny plaits had to be arranged, and then the runner
³
had to be sent to Mr. Taranto to fetch
the grandmother’s ducats; they were kept back because she was envious, and so the runner had to
go to another relative, and once everything was
fi
nally in order, with a truly beating heart I set about
my task, which had to be
fi
nished by a speci
fi
c time; it was as though I were competing for a prize.
But then all the members of the family—and it was big—great and small, young and old, Jews
and Jewesses, were like
fl
ies savouring sweetness. One after the other they all came, often seven or
eight at a time, including the doctor, indeed even the preserving woman, the lace dealer, the wash-
erwoman, the runner, the sons, the school friends, the girls and God knows who they all were,
indeed even the grandmother from Rhodes had come, and there they sat and exasperated me by
nudging my arm, standing in the light, knocking against the easel, chattering to each other and
addressing the most incredible questions to me. At last, I exclaimed, “I can’t go on—I need to be
alone.” But freedom was not to be mine; . . .
But at last the portrait was
fi
nished. It was evening
when I left after having granted the entire family a
solemn audience, whereupon I went o
ff
with it stand-
ing upright in the coach. When I drove past the illu-
minated cafes, the men crowded together while the
coach carrying me and the portrait swayed to and fro
on the uneven cobblestones. “Look! Look!” came the
cries. The boys ran alongside hooting; but the dark-
ness of the night protected this journey, so that the
portrait came to no harm.
The book’s xylographed version of Zarina’s portrait
might well have been made on the basis of the painting
before it was replicated for Madame P, as the woodcut
lacks “part of the bottom section of the picture.” If the
illustrations to
Brogede Rejsebilleder
were made in the same
year as the book was published, it must be assumed that
the painted portrait of the beautiful Jewish girl was only
completed in

—and it is to be hoped for Zarina’s
mother that she managed to obtain her replica. However,
it is also possible that in the black and white picture in the
[

FIG. A
Elisabeth Jerichau Baumann
Zarina, a Jewish Girl from Smyrna
A woodcut book illustration,
x
¼
in. (

x

mm).
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