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After laying the basis for the other two stories, G. Eliot takes no back to the trials of Dorothea.
Will Ladislaw happens to be in Rome. He begins to study painting from a talented German artist, Adolf Naumann. They both spend time at the Vatican, studying ancient works and painting. One morning Naumann excitedly calls Will to observe what he calls "an antithesis." A beautiful antique sculpture of Ariadne is being observed by a beautiful young woman, modestly dressed like a Quaker. Naumann finds the juxtaposition of the sensuous sculpture and the beauty of the living woman interesting. Will tells him she is his cousinís wife, and Naumann expresses a desire to paint her. Will is indignant at her being treated as a model. He finds himself looking at her without his earlier suspicion of her motives in marriage with his elderly cousin.
The earlier tantalizing glimpse of will is expanded into a deeper acquaintance. His contrast with Casaubon is even more emphatic against the richly sensuous background of Rome with its overwhelming presence of history and art. Will comes across as a dilettante, dabbling in painting and poetry, and up to now unashamed of living off Casaubonís charity.