She was born in Mŕnai in 3387 to a moderately successful merchant family. Her father made enough money to achieve the dream of every respectable Ismaîn: to send his children to an avisŕ in the capital, Raizumi. Avisŕi are designed to educate nobles— and to inculcate a common culture and dialect among the élite— and teach no marketable skills. Her father was able to support her for a couple of years after avisŕ, and then he went bankrupt and died. Her brother joined the merchant marine; Mŕiʐe was on her own.
Most of her friends were artists or aristocrats or both; she survived on her contacts, seesawing vertiginously from luxury to poverty and from place to place. One month she might work as a tutor or private secretary, the next she might visit friends and scrounge off them as long as possible; after that she might scrape by in a charity dormitory, her very meals a luxury. She wrote reviews and squibs for various newspapers, many of them put out for only an issue or two by her friends; these paid a pittance, but enough to buy a meal or two. Sometimes she lived with boyfriends. For one extended period she travelled with an aristocratic Kebreni family to Kebropol and then to their estate on Meḣta. Typically, after almost a year she quarreled with her friend and was stuck in Ingabu for five months, penniless, until she met and charmed an Eleďe priest; finding her “a poor lost angel”, he paid for her passage back to Ismahi.
She was tall, thin, and very pretty; by all accounts she was infinitely charming and wholly irresponsible. She was easily angered or bored, and as easily distracted out of it; she got drunk quickly and misbehaved spectacularly. She was said to have modelled for every painter in Raizumi, and to have slept with any of them that thought to ask.
In 3408 she met the Verdurian painter Gesom Abolineron— distantly related to the Abolineron dynasty— and he became the great love of her life. They had dramatic arguments, often in other people’s houses, but married in 3410. She bore two daughters, which she alternately smothered and ignored, and as Gesom’s career took off, she took over the business aspects. For a time the couple were well off, and lived for a time in Koto and for almost three years in the Petrei neighborhood of Verduria city. Neither of the two were noted for their fidelity, but Gesom’s affairs were passionate and entirely unhidden, and deeply saddened Mŕiʐe. She drank more, and alone rather than among her friends. Gesom frittered away the money she had carefully saved, while producing almost no new work. Finally, after one last public quarrel, she returned alone to Raizumi.
Observers at the time felt that there was a great disconnect between the frivolity of her personality and the fervor of her work, and her reputation has only increased since; she is today rated only below Paveł Pîsesgoʐe among Ismaîn painters.
Her style was at first considered sketchy, even sloppy; this has variously been blamed on laziness, incompetence, or myopia. But the Vŕeʐe Cilime artists consciously rebelled against contemporary norms, and disdained the formal portraits and allegorical or patriotic scenes which were then the pinnacle of respectable painting. Freed of the need for realism, the cénacle explored color and form for their own sake, experimented with new materials and methods, and even imitated the savage power of art from Téllinor. Paveł was more experimental, but Mŕiʐe excelled in bold composition and rough, expressive modelling. She was by no means a poor draughtsman, as contemporary critics of the circle alleged; when she cared to, she could draw exquisitely, without loss of her trademark spontaneity.
The example, Aʐŕe jine (Blue girl) (3419), is typical of her mature work. The colors are strong, even cheerful, but the skewed perspective and the defiantly off-center positioning, blank expression, and unnatural coloration of the subject evoke a powerful sense of alienation. There is a social context to this: the intelligentsia of Ismahi has been famously decadent because it is famously ignored. Power is closely held by very conservative nobles, who carefully educate their young to appreciate the fine arts— but only classic works by artists long dead. Ismaîn artists were naturally fascinated with the artist-run empire of Xurno, but also with the intellectual ferment of Verduria, Kebri, Érenat, and other nations, which seemed to be passing Ismahi by.
The Vŕeʐe Cilime artists were hardly noticed by outsiders as they produced their most famous works, most of which they sold to each other or to an aristrocratic friend or two— or to Gŕedł Zome, daughter of a merchant from Denisovič whose wealth allowed her to live in Raizumi, write ferociously unreadable novels, and buy paintings from her many friends. Mŕiʐe later claimed that she had only sold two paintings before marrying Gesom. But then, though she talked incessantly about her painting, few reported seeing her at work, and she finished less than two dozen canvases.
Gesom was the most successful member of the circle for a time, not least because he had contacts in Verduria, and because of Mŕiʐe’s tireless work on his behalf.
After leaving Gesom, she avoided the artistic life entirely. She returned to writing for awhile, this time for a mainstream news sheet, then married her editor Zołşin Ôkos, bore two sons, and lived a quiet bourgeois life for more than twenty years. When she felt sufficiently well off, she brought her daughters back from Verduria city.
In 3444 Allyşi Tłine, Gŕedł Zome’s longtime companion, wrote Vitre sŕ Vŕeʐe Cilime (Dinner on Green Hill), a gossipy memoir of life in the cénacle. This revived interest in its works— chiefly to the benefit of Paveł Pîsesgoʐe, now acknowledged as the cénacle’s master.
Mŕiʐe wrote to Gesom suggesting that his career could take off again. He returned to Raizumi and, as he had no money, moved in with her and Ôkos. She wrote articles about him for Ôkos’s paper and others, shopped his paintings around to well-off friends, and nagged him to throw away the bottle. She found models for him, including her own daughters; to no one’s great surprise, she went back to his bed. Sometimes a young model was already there, in which case she slept on a divan in the next room.
Her business efforts paid off; her minding failed. He couldn't finish a painting. But Mŕiʐe could; she knew his style better than anyone, and since she was after product rather than self-expression, she could work quickly and steadily. Over the course of five years she sold more than forty faux Gesoms; she also sold most of her own works from years ago.
Finally she tired of Gesom, kicked him out of Ôkos’s house, and then left it herself, moving to a small room of her own. For awhile she managed other Vŕeʐe Cilime artists; but devoted her last years to writing her own memoirs, insisting that Allyşi Tłine’s book had gotten everything wrong and needed to be corrected. She wrote in disconnected fragments, often vehement rants rehabilitating a friend Tłine had trashed, or vice versa. She died of an acute respiratory infection in 3452.