The former, a renowned portrait painter, is a brooding, passionate man who’s wholly devoted to his work, to the point that it seems like he already has “a bride in his Art.” The latter is “a maiden of rarest beauty, and not more lovely than full of glee.
The artist’s wife hates nothing but the vocation of her husband, since she regards his art as a rival for his affections. Vivacious though she is, the girl is also meek and submissive, and bends to the will of her husband, who’s eager to paint her portrait, because she knows how greatly he values his work.
The painter is passionate about the painting, but because of his moodiness and dreaminess, he does not notice that she is wasting away in the dark. Nevertheless, she does not complain and continues to smile for his portrait because she knows that her husband is obsessed with his project.
The portrait is so life-like that everyone who sees it marvels and concludes that it is the combination of his skill and his love for his wife. However when he finishes the painting, he turns to his wife and realizing that she died during his last few strokes of the brush.