When Vronsky’s and Golenishchev’s calling cards arrive at Mikhailov’s studio, he is working hard; he has had a fight with his wife, which is always an excellent catalyst for painting. He finishes the drawing, makes up with his wife, and greets his guests. Though anxious about others’ opinions, what strikes him most deeply is Anna standing in the doorway and the play of shadows and light around her. He is an ordinary, stocky, rumpled figure who doesn’t appear to care what he looks like.
Though Mikhailov is an unpleasant, temperamental figure who does depend on the opinions of the outside world, he views the world through the eyes of an artist, not just a man playing the role of one or trying to look like one, as Vronsky is doing. Since Mikhailov is not physically attractive, Vronsky doesn’t see him as a threat for Anna’s affections.