At its most obscure

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  • ectropion

    Senior Member
    The context is a painter's work analysis; but the sentence is somehow independent. "At its most oscure, the painting has some of the features of Far-Eastern imagery." and then the author starts talking about other things...
    Thanks and excuses for my inaccuracy
    Last edited:


    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    I agree with languageGuy that it is not clear what the singular its refers to. However, making the best sense I can of the sentence, I think it = the painter's work as a whole.

    So (I think): "When the painter's work is most obscure (=hard to understand), it has some of the features of Far-East imagery."

    (I am also reading "the paintings have some of the features ...." for "the painting (sing.) have ....")

    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    Difficult to be sure as your sentence has errors, and we can't be sure what it really says. Is it "the painting has" or the "paintings have"? If the latter, I agree that it is odd as for the reasons already stated. It might be best if you were to go back to the text and copy it exactly, because what you have copied is certainly wrong. Also, the sentence before this one might be helpful.

    Grumpy Old Man

    Senior Member
    "At its most obscure, the painting has some of the features of Far-Eastern imagery."
    The author uses a standard superlative structure used in English when something is compared to itself (or somebody is compared to himself):

    The lake is [at its] deepest here.
    = Wherever you go on the lake, it will be shallower than it is where you are now. The lake is not compared with other lakes.

    He is [at his] happiest before Christmas.
    = He is never happier than he is before Christmas. He is not compared with other people.

    Maybe I had better not try to explain what exactly the author implies. No doubt he considers the painting obscure.:)


    Senior Member
    I really appreciated your clear explaination. I think now that the meaning is something like: This feature is not immediately visible but at a smart look we can realize that the painting has somehow been influenced by Far-East imagery
    Thank you very much
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