from the Collection «The Trimmed Lamp»
Carson Chalmers, a wealthy man, was feeling melancholic one evening and decided to invite a homeless man to dine with him. His servant, Phillips, brought a man named Plumer to his apartment.
Plumer was a former successful painter who had fallen on hard times due to his uncanny ability to reveal the hidden character of his subjects in his portraits.
I had a knack of bringing out in the face of a portrait the hidden character of the original. I don’t know how I did it — I painted what I saw — but I know it did me.
This led to many of his clients becoming angry and refusing to pay for their portraits, eventually causing Plumer to lose his career and turn to alcohol.
Chalmers, intrigued by Plumer's story, asked him to make a pastel sketch of a photograph he had received of his wife, who was traveling in Europe. Plumer agreed and completed the sketch, but Chalmers was too afraid to look at it, fearing what hidden traits it might reveal about his wife. He called upon a young artist named Reineman to give his opinion on the sketch.
Reineman praised the quality of the drawing and described the face in the sketch as that of an angel. Relieved, Chalmers revealed that the subject was his wife and commissioned Reineman to paint a full portrait of her based on the sketch, leaving the price up to him.
She is traveling in Europe. Take that sketch, boy, and paint the picture of your life from it and leave the price to me.