The Painting

It is the most famous work of art in the Gallery: a painting of a woman dressed in blue standing by the seashore, staring into the distance as the sun rises or perhaps sets. Its beauty makes even the marvels of the House seem drab beside it. It seems more real than reality itself.

It cannot be photographed, nor can it be fully described. No two who have seen the Painting give the same description of the woman, but all agree she is the most beautiful woman who ever lived. No one knows who painted it or what it is supposed to mean. Some say it was made by the Architect for the woman he loved, but she scorned him, and so he drowned himself in the Tarn, cursing it. But those who study the House’s history say this is a mere legend, and the curse is far older than the House.

All who behold the Painting are filled with a deep longing that will haunt them to their graves. Some go mad from that longing and take their own lives. But others who have been consumed by despair find it lifted, healed by a deeper wound.

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