Marcia Strykowski

Girls Reading Books (Part 1)

XX Albert_Anker_Lesendes_Mädchen 1905Have you ever watched a child, or anyone for that matter, deeply engrossed in a book? Maybe they wear a slight Mona Lisa smile. Maybe they glance away from the page for a minute, but still have a faraway look in their eyes. Or maybe they even cry, gasp, or laugh out loud. There are so many gorgeous paintings from the 19th century of people reading books. This one (upper right) is slightly after that period (1905) and is by Albrecht Samuel Anker (April 1, 1831 – July 16, 1910). He was a popular Swiss painter and illustrator who often depicted scenes of 19th-century Swiss village life. XX Eduard_Klieber_(Kopie_nach_Meyer_von_Bremen)_Lesendes_Mädchen_1855For the sake of post length, I’ve limited my favorite portrayals to the following: young girls reading books by themselves. The picture at left was created in 1855 by Austrian painter Eduard Klieber (1803-1879).  It was around the time of many of these paintings (mid 1800s) that beautiful books were first produced for children. With a German influence, both type and illustration improved and the fashion of only writing about morals and manners was finally starting to decline. When we study these expressive paintings, it’s interesting to wonder what the girls are reading. Could it be a book of fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm, or maybe Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865)?XX At_A_Reading_Desk_by_Frederic_Leighton 1877Above painting from 1877 is by English painter Sir Frederic Leighton (3 December 1830 – 25 January 1896). Good idea to use a book-stand as some of these old books look pretty heavy.XX Meyer_von_Bremen_Strickendes_lesendes_Mädchen_1863Even back in 1863, there was multitasking going on. This girl probably couldn’t choose between her two favorite hobbies, deciding to enjoy them both at once, instead. Her joy is beautifully captured forever by German painter Meyer von Bremen (28 October 1813 – 4 December 1886).

XX Franz_Eybl_(1806-1880),_Lesendes_Mädchen 1850Look at the concentration and emotion on this lovely young lady from 1850. So completely absorbed in her book, she seems unaware of being studied by Austrian painter Franz Eybl (1 April 1806 – 29 April 1880) who created this timeless oil on canvas.

XX Georgios_Jakobides_Girl_reading_c1882Not exactly a book, but let’s head over to Greece to enjoy this humorous portrayal of a young girl reading what appears to be the daily news in 1882. Could she be reading about political candidates? She has been captured forever by Greek painter Georgios Jakobides (11 January 1853 – 13 December 1932).Rachel_Russell_(1826-1898)_by_Edwin_Henry_Landseer_(1802-1873)Sir Edwin Henry Landseer (7 March 1802 – 1 October 1873) painted the above portrait in 1835. An English painter, he is best known for his lion sculptures in Trafalgar Square.XX _02 c1930Above painting is by Emil Rau (1858-1937), a German painter. I love the light coming in through an unseen window.Pierre-Auguste_Renoir_-_Jeune_Fille_lisant 1886An example of the highly recognizable style of French artist Auguste Renoir (25 February 1841 – 3 December 1919). A leader in the development of Impressionist painting, he completed the above in 1886.Reading_girl_by_Repin 1876Ilya Yefimovich Repin  (5 August or 24 July 1844 – 29 September 1930) was a Russian realist painter who gave us this lovely Reading Girl in 1876.Winslow_Homer,_Reading_by_the_Brook,_1879._Oil_on_canvas._Memphis_Brooks_Museum_of_Art,_Memphis,We can’t leave out Winslow Homer (February 24, 1836 – September 29, 1910), American landscape painter and printmaker, best known for his marine subjects. He painted the above work: Reading by the Brook in 1879.XX Anton_Ebert_Lesendes_Mädchen c. 1895Anton Ebert (1845-1896) was an Austrian painter who painted the above girl (c. 1890) with two little books to enjoy.

Three more to go, all too beautiful to leave out.George_Goodwin_Kilburne_A_peaceful_read_1869From 1869, the above masterpiece is by English painter George Goodwin Kilburne (24 July 1839 – 1924).Albert_Edelfelt_-_Hyviä_ystäviä_(1881)Albert Gustaf Aristides Edelfelt (21 July 1854 – 18 August 1905) was a Finnish painter. Although the above was painted in 1881, it has a more contemporary look to me. Except for the shoes and lack of a cellphone, this might be the girl next door. The dog looks very much like author Cynthia Lord’s adorable little dog, Milo, with one ear up and one ear down.Myles_Birket_Foster_The_shepherdess c. 1899Last, but certainly not least, The Shepherdess (c. 1890) by English Illustrator Myles Birket Foster (4 February 1825 – 27 March 1899).

That’s plenty for now, Happy Reading! Please check out the second half of this post here.

65 Comments

  1. FABulous post, Marcia. So lovely. Inspirational. Get me to my paints AND the library – right this minute!

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    • I can’t wait to see what you paint next, Pierr! So happy you found this post inspiring. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Anonymous

        Hi Marcia! I see that you have love for beautiful paintings…I have an original oil…large painting of trees in a wooded meadow…by (I can’t make out the first name initial)…but the last name is Stryjkowski…I can’t find a thing on this artist…Any relation?? Love to hear from you…Julie Thompson

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        • Hi Julie, how interesting! No relation that I know of, and I see they have a j added to the middle of their name. I looked it up and found a pretty painting by probably the same Polish artist (either Ir or Lr Stryjkowski) that was sold on Ebay. It’s a landscape of a cowboy with two horses by a river. Sounds like you have a beautiful scene, too. Enjoy, and thanks so much for getting in touch.

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  2. What a beautiful selection! Just lovely!

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  3. What a lovely collection of artwork!

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  4. Reblogged this on Jennie's Joyful Jots … and commented:
    Oh, I just so very much love this! I know you wil, too.

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  5. Reblogged this on A Teacher's Reflections and commented:
    Reading, captured through art. What could be more beautiful? Marcia Strykowski shows us.

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  6. Beautiful post Marcia!

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  7. This is such a lovely post Marcia, thank you for sharing so many beautiful portraits. I could not resist pinning some of them to my Just Reading board on Pinterest. If you would like to take a look at the board this is the link https://uk.pinterest.com/barbaraafisher/just-reading/
    Happy Reading. 🙂

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    • Thanks, Barbara! I’ll try to see your Pinterest board. I’m not a member and it usually blocks me out. Maybe I’ll give in and join up. Either way, I’m glad you enjoyed the post!

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  8. These are all wonderful paintings. Thanks for sharing them with us.

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  9. Most pictures of people reading are about reading women. Is that because most models were female? Or because more women than men read novels?

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    • Although reading habits were quickly changing during the late 19th century (to include more women, shop girls, and children), I think you’re right about it mostly being because female models were more in vogue at that time. Thanks for your comment, Fran–interesting to think about!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Extraordinary paintings. Girls after my own heart.Thank you for reminding me of this tradition, Marcia.

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  11. Colleen

    Oh, Marcia! This is THE BEST! I hope you don’t mind that I pinned the pictures and I shared the url on my Facebook Home Page. If you do mind- I will remove them immediately! I was so taken with this post! Have you ever seen the Movie “Agata and the Storm”? Agata is a bookseller and whenever we see her reading she has the loveliest smile!

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    • No, I don’t mind at all. I’m not familiar with “Agata and the Storm,” but now I’ll definitely be looking into it. Thanks for the recommendation, Colleen!

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  12. I love the painting of young girl with her dog on a window seat by Edelfelt. I hope to have some readers that engrossed while reading my book.😊

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  13. Beautiful, beautiful post. Loved it 🙂

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  14. Excellent post. I was thoroughly captivated by it! (My favorite was the painting by Edelfelt) 🙂

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  15. These are awesome, thanks for “collecting” them all here. I have a set of notecards with images of women reading on them–it’s a cool theme, I’ve enjoyed using them.

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    • I have an old address book with pictures of women reading, probably some of the same images as your notecards. Something about paintings from long ago, they hold so much more than today’s quick photographs.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Truly a lovely collection. The day I can paint like those renowned artists I will be truly proud of my work . I remember those days when reading a great fairy tales book was my top priority The little girl reading with her puppy brought a smile to my face. Thank you for sharing this wonderful post and for your visit on my blog.

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    • I’m happy you enjoyed the post and feel inspired by these great works by the masters. Keep painting!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Meant to say, “Fary tales” books. Not “fart takes” lol I need to change my glasses.

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  18. Ashley

    All these pretty pictures are great. They make me want to go outside and read under a tree!! Some of the girls look like each other. Do you think so?

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    • Yes and I actually tried to find more diverse models before posting. I searched for several different nationalities, but for that time period these seem to be the extent of what’s out there. I’ll be trying again with a future blog post.

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  19. So sweet! Makes me wonder what facial expressions I make when reading… =)

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    • Right, for most of us we’d probably prefer not to be watched while reading. 🙂

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  20. Bette Norton

    I love all of the beautiful paintings of the girls reading their books. How exciting it must of been when the first reading books for children came out in the early 1800’s. You have chosen an amazing collection of paintings. I love them all, but I especially enjoyed Sir Frederic Leighton’s painting with the girl reading using a book stand. Clever idea for the heavier books. I loved how the light played on her satin robe. All of your posts are so informative and beautifully illustrated, each one so different from the next. This is a lovely post which I will enjoy going back to read from time to time. I only hope that more children would put down their electronic devices and pick up a book and spend some time reading. There is nothing more rewarding then to hold a book in your hands and to feel at your fingertips the smooth pages of well written words. Words that bring such joy, knowledge and adventure to one’s life. Thank you again for yet another wonderful post! 🙂

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    • What a beautifully written comment! I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts. Leighton’s painting is wonderful, one of my favorites, too (of course I say that for all of them!). I’m polishing up the second half of this post and hope you’ll enjoy that one as much. Thank you, Bette!

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  21. Joyce Ray

    Lovely post, Marcia. Don’t you wonder about the depictions of 17th century young girls reading books? It’s been my understand that girls in the upper classes were tutored for a while (not as long as boys), but some of these paintings show working girls, like the shepherdess, stopping to look at books. I did not imagine they could read! Thanks for all this post makes me think about and consider!

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    • Thanks, Joyce. It is interesting to wonder if the books were sometimes just a prop, although I’m sure there were clever girls of all classes who may have figured out how to read even if doing so wasn’t the norm for their station. Good thoughts!

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  22. Beautiful post Marcia!! Love this theme. We have my favorite “woman reading” print over a book case in the living room. It’s Winslow Homer’s girl reading a book, laying on her side in an orange dress, reading. Simple and beautiful. And this morning I took a picture of our grand daughter sitting at breakfast eating pancakes while she read through the Harry Potter book (play) that her uncle bought her this week. Girls and books– the best! Thanks for an original, fun post!! Hope you’ve gotten in some great reading time this summer Marcia… Hugs from here.

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    • Thanks so much, Rhonda! I know just the picture you mean, a beautiful watercolor. That’s great you took a photo of your granddaughter reading. Those are the kind of pictures I later cherish, when kids are doing everyday activities. xo

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      • happy reading Marcia! maybe someone sill paint your reading portrait!! hahaha! xox

        Liked by 1 person

  23. Beautiful! What a creative idea for a blog post.

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  24. A fabulous post, Marcia. I love reading, I love painting, and of course I’ve got to love paintings with people reading!

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  25. Thank you for sharing your writing and such wonderful collection of paintings.

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    • You’re welcome, I’m so glad you enjoyed the paintings. Thanks for letting me know!

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  26. These paintings are heart-warming, and your information about the painters is so interesting and honoring to them. Wonderful, and breathtakingly beautiful, Marcia. Thanks so much for the beauty you put into our days!

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    • You’re welcome! I really appreciate you taking the time to comment.

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  27. Lynn

    Beautiful post, thank you for sharing so many wonderful pictures and words!

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  28. George Goodwin Kilburne’s A Peaceful Read looks like it could be a scene from Anne of Green Gables!

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