Vronsky buys the small painting and commissions Mikhailov to do Anna’s portrait. The painter captures Anna’s special beauty, but Golenishchev still looks down on him because he lacks education. Mikhailov is unpleasant and reserved at the palazzo. After Mikhailov finishes, Vronsky stops his own portrait of Anna, and soon he stops painting entirely. He and Anna decide to spend the summer on Vronsky’s family estate in Russia.
Mikhailov is unpleasant and does not try to charm anyone, but despite his lack of education, he has far more real talent than Vronsky, and Vronsky knows it. Vronsky can never finish his own portrait of Anna, since that of the real painter will always be superior. Italy suddenly seems unbearably flat and unromantic when Vronsky cannot even pretend to himself that he’s an artist.