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Anna Alexandrovna Galitzin, nee Gruzinsky

Grand Houses of the 18th and 19th century (such as Highdark Hall) were crammed with paintings, especially portraits of family members. This draft excerpt from the upcoming “A Ghastly Companion to Castles, Mansions, and Estates” will help you create descriptions of such paintings on the fly.

Male Portrait

d6 The subject is a…

1

young boy…

2

young man…

3 – 5

mature man…

6

older man…

d6 whose build is…
1 – 3 average,
4 thin,
5 athletic,
6 corpulent,
d20 and who looks….

1

angry.

2

sad.

3

handsome.

4

happy.

5

unkempt.

6

immaculate.

7

pensive.

8

mischievous.

9

cruel.

10

tired.

11

sickly.

12

rakish.

13

stern.

14

haunted.

15

nervous.

16

heroic.

17

strangely pale.

18

surprisingly swarthy.

19

diseased.

20

malformed.

d12 He is wearing…
1 a predominantly blue outfit,
2 a predominantly red outfit,
3 a predominantly black outfit (of mourning),
4 a predominantly white outfit,
5 a predominantly yellow outfit,
6 a predominantly purple outfit,
7 an outfit of fur and velvet,
8 a multi-colored outfit,
9 a somber outfit,
10 a military uniform,
11 armor,
12 clothes that were archaic even when the painting was executed,
d10 and is… NOTES
1 standing…
2 seated..
3 atop a horse… Ignore results of 5 or below in next table.
4 hunting… Ignore results of 5 or below in next table.
5 looking at a curio
6 painting..
7 shown standing, from the chest up…
8 shown standing, from the knees up…
9 shown seated, from the chest up…
10 shown seated, from the knees up…
d20 amid….
1 a richly appointed bedchamber.
2 an opulent drawing room.
3 a salon.
4 a cabinet of curiosities.
5 a curtained interior.
6 a military encampment.
7 a village of happy peasants.
8 the facade of the house itself.
9 an unidentified castle.
10 a country lane.
11 a classical ruin.
12 a field of clouded color.
13 a ruined castle.
14 a formal French garden.
15 a ruined cathedral.
16 a forest.
17 a mountainous landscape.
18 a rolling countryside, with trees in the far distance.
19 horses (or farm animals) in the countryside.
20 a slaughtered stag (or other game animal) in the forest.
d20 A notable feature of the portrait is…
1 it looks as though the subject may once have been wearing a different outfit, which has been painted over.
2

the skull at his feet.

3

one hand is pointing to the opened text of an infamous book.

4

it includes another depiction of an unidentified person.

5

it is amateurishly executed.

6

it is masterwork, but from an unknown artist.

7

the strange use of perspective.

8

the bizarrely clashing colors.

9

its trompe l’oeil execution looks amazingly three-dimensional.

10

the Chinese outfit he is wearing.

11

he is wearing a turban.

12

his hands and overall body shape seem oddly feminine, as if the model was actually a woman.

13

he has a visible tattoo on his hand.

14

the strange cloud formations in the sky above (or visible through a window).

15

it is so highly varnished (or glazed) that you see yourself reflected on the surface.

16

it looks as through they may once have been a second figure who has been painted out.

17

the clearly identifiable talisman ring he wears.

18

the unidentifiable animals that are also part of the composition.

19

the way its eyes seem to follow you.

20

the presence of numerous animals, evidently pets.

Female Portrait

d8 The subject is a…

1

young girl…

2 – 4

young woman…

5 – 7

mature woman…

8

older woman…

d6 whose build is…
1 – 3 average,
4 willowy,
5 voluptuous,
6 corpulent,
d12 and who looks notably….
1 excited.
2 amused.
3 attractive.
4 fashion-conscious.
5 flirtatious.
6 placid.
7 cruel.
8 nervous.
9 haunted.
10 sad.
11 pale.
12 dark-complexioned.
d12 She is wearing…
1 a predominantly blue outfit,
2 a predominantly red outfit,
3 a predominantly black outfit (of mourning),
4 a predominantly white outfit,
5 a predominantly yellow outfit,
6 a predominantly purple outfit,
7 a multi-colored outfit,
8 a somber outfit,
9 furs and velvet,
10 a masquerade outfit,
11 the clothing of a Greek goddess,
12 clothes that were archaic even when the painting was executed,
d20 and is…
1 standing…
2 seated…
3 riding a horse… (roll again if next table indicates an interior)
4 reclining on a couch…
5 praying…
6 displaying her hand fan…
7 reading…
8 engaged in her toilette…
9 holding (or arranging) flowers…
10 sewing…
11 painting… (with watercolors or pastels)
12 drawing…
13 holding her dog (or cat)…
14 at the harpsichord or pianoforte…
15 holding an infant…
16 shown from the bust up…
17 standing, shown from the waist up…
18 standing, shown from the knees up…
19 seated, shown form the waist up…
20 seated, shown from the knees up…
d20 amid….
1 a richly appointed bedchamber.
2 an opulent drawing room.
3 a salon.
4 a dressing table, with her lady’s maid.
5 a curtained interior.
6 her art (or music) studio.
7 a forest.
8 a mountainous landscape.
9 a rolling countryside, with trees in the far distance.
10 horses (or farm animals) in the countryside.
11 a garden pool.
12 a village of happy peasants.
13 the facade of the house itself.
14 an unidentified castle.
15 a country lane.
16 a classical ruin.
17 a ruined cathedral.
18 a ruined castle.
19 a formal French garden.
20 a field of clouded color.
d20 A notable feature of the portrait is…
1 her breasts are exposed. (Roll again, of course, if subject is not an adult.)
2 she is pinching an exposed nipple. Possibly, that of another woman. (Roll again,of course, if subject is not an adult.)
3 she is holding a horsewhip.
4 she is holding a sword (or other weapon).
5 more attention appears to have been paid to her jewelry than anything else.
6 the presence of a skull.
7 the presence of one or more pets.
8 it includes another depiction of an unidentified person.
9 it is amateurishly executed.
10 it is masterwork, but from an unknown artist.
11 the Chinese outfit she is wearing.
12 her Turkish outfit.
13 the strange cloud formations in the sky above (or visible through a window).
14 it is so highly varnished (or glazed) that you see yourself reflected on the surface.
15 it looks as through they may once have been a second figure who has been painted out.
16 it’s hard to tell if the cross she wears is actually inverted, or if that is just a trick of color and perspective.
17 the unidentifiable animals that are also part of the composition.
18 she is attended by masked servants who show no visible skin.
19 it smells intensely of perfume.
20 for some reason the artist has depicted all of her imperfections.

Note that portraits of upper-class women will almost always soften and idealize their actual features, and omit any blemishes. Even if an upper-class woman actually has an athletic build she will generally not be painted that way, because it suggests that she labors like a servant. It is also common for female subjects to be depicted as younger than their actual age at the time of the sitting.

Portraits showing women with exposed breasts were not considered outrageous in aristocratic circles before the 19th century, because they emphasized the subject’s femininity and fertility. Later in the 19th century such portraits were often altered to conform to the new standards of propriety.

Dimensions of a Painting

d20 The painting is…

1

a tall rectangle 2′ high, and 1.5′ in width.

2

a tall rectangle 3′ high, and 2′ in width.

3

a tall rectangle 4′ high, and 2.5′ in width.

4

a tall rectangle 5′ high, and 3.5′ in width.

5

a tall rectangle 6′ high, and 4′ in width.

6

a tall rectangle 7′ high, and 4.5′ in width.

7

a wide rectangle 2′ across, and 1.5′ high. (Unusual for portraits)

8

a wide rectangle 3′ across, and 2′ high. (Unusual for portraits)

9

a wide rectangle 4′ across, and 2.5′ high. (Unusual for portraits)

10

a wide rectangle 5′ across, and 3.5′ high. (Unusual for portraits)

11

a wide rectangle 6′ across, and 4′ high. (Unusual for portraits)

12

a wide rectangle 7′ across, and 4.5′ high. (Unusual for portraits)

13

a square 2′ across.

14

a square 3′ across.

15

a square 4′ across.

16

a circle (tondo) 2′ in diameter.

17

a circle (tondo) 3′ in diameter.

18

a circle (tondo) 4′ in diameter.

19

an oval 3′ tall, and 2′ in width.

20

an oval 3′ in width, and 2′ high.

Age of the Painting

d8 The painting was created…
1 Recently (within the last 10 years)
2 10 to 20 years ago.
3 – 4 20 to 50 years ago.
5 100 to 150 years ago.
6 150 to 200 years ago.
7 250 to 300 years ago.
8 300 to 350 years ago.

The Frame

d100, 2d4 times The gilded design of the sculptured frame incorporates…
1 – 6 palmettes
7 – 12 rosettes
13 – 18 volutes
19 – 24 acanthus leaves
25 – 30 cartouches
31 – 37 s–shaped curves
38 – 44 c–shaped curves.
45 – 46 seashells
47 – 48 cupids
49 – 50 stags
51 – 52 rays of glory
53 – 54 a green-man’s face
55 – 56 a satyr’s face
57 – 58 nymphs
59 – 60 a dart-and-egg design
61 – 62 Corinthian columns
63 – 64 Ionic columns
65 – 66 Doric columns
67 – 68 roses
69 – 70 fleurs-de-lis
71 – 72 oak leaves
73 – 74 vines
75 – 76 scrolls
77 – 78 branches
79 – 80 curlicues
81 – 82 grapes
83 – 84 tendrils
85 – 86 birds
87 – 88 acorns
89 – 90 apples
91 – 92 pears
93 – 94 ostrich feathers
95 – 96 masks
97 – 98 marbleized polychrome accents
99 – 100 painted polychrome accents
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