The Cruel Painter is a short story by George MacDonald. It’s not fantasy – George MacDonald is one of the few who’ve written non-fantasy that I very much enjoy. It’s very much a story about love and what love will go to for the beloved – what love sees in the beloved – and that’s why I like it.
Readers should be aware that it does have some horror-like elements in it.
For a synopsis, it is the story of an intellectually and physically strong young man who falls in love with a woman painted into pictures of cruelty by her father. The young man, Karl, apprentices himself to the painter, in order to be able to get close to his daughter, who appears impassive and uncaring towards him. He remains, madly in love with her, while her father, the cruel painter, who is fascinated by human sufferings and wishes to see more of it, finds ways to turn the situation to his vile benefit.
Other works by George MacDonald available here: