Marcia Strykowski

Girls Reading Books (Part 2)

Before publishing my last post, I searched for paintings of girls of various complexions to be included in the portraits I shared, but between the time period and my need to use only public domain pictures, my choices were limited. Rather frustrating, since nine different countries were represented in that post.

For this second part of the post, I’m not limiting myself to girls reading by themselves, but instead I will also be sharing groups and pairs. I had already planned it this way—one post of solo portraits and one post of paintings with multiple models, so you can imagine my delight in spotting an almost hidden book in this breathtakingly beautiful Japanese silk painting.Two Girls by the SeaThe above is entitled Two Girls by the Sea and is signed Kafu, but with no other information as to the true identity of the artist. It was painted on silk c. mid-1920s and now resides in the Honolulu Museum of Art.

This next painting also has a bit of mystery (at least to me). It was created circa 1901, but I haven’t figured out how to spell the artist’s name and therefore I have no information on him. The name is in a language with symbols I can’t figure out. (Russian?) You’ll find his signature in the bottom left corner. (Makobck..?) If anyone has any ideas, let me know!1901

As_duas_irmãs_-_Renoir 1889There are many paintings by French painter Auguste Renoir (25 February 1841 – 3 December 1919) depicting girls reading books. One was in the last post and after deleting three other options of pairs of girls reading, I settled on this one from 1892. I think they may be sisters who also appear in some of his other works.

Since a picture’s worth a thousand words, here are a few more without too much commentary.Perrault_Leon_Jean_An_Interesting_Story c. 1800sThe above cute pose was painted by Leon-Jean Bazille Perrault (16 June 1832 – 1908) a French painter.Henri_Lebasque_(1865-1937)2 c 1900Henri Lebasque (25 September 1865 – 7 August 1937) was a French post-impressionist painter.Laura_Muntz_Lyall_-_Interesting_Story_-_1898Laura Muntz Lyall (18 June 1860 – 9 December 1930) was a Canadian impressionist painter known for her portrayal of mothers and children.

This next picture of a young teen is from c. 1785, Lucknow, India. Although not certain, Portrait of a Bibi is thought to be painted by Johann Zoffany. You may say she’s holding a little mirror (or her smartphone?), but I’m thinking it’s a small book of cherished words.Portrait_of_a_Bibi,_Lucknow 1785After much searching to find more diverse subjects for this post, I suddenly realized the following pictures did indeed have books in them, if only you look closely. Each of these three girls has at least one hand out of sight. I’ve decided they are holding their books below the artist’s vision (off-camera, if you will) while having their portraits painted.Lilla_Cabot_Perry,_1889_-_La_Petite_Angèle_II

Lilla Cabot Perry (13 January 1848 – 28 February 1933) was an American artist who worked in the American Impressionist style.Jean_Etienne_LiotardPortrait of a Young Woman, above, is from the late 18th century. Beautifully painted by Jean Etienne Liotard (22 December 1702- 12 June 1789) a Swiss-French painter, art connoisseur and dealer.Girl_in_a_Yellow_Dress_by_Wada_Eisaku_(Yamatane_Museum_of_Art)Wada Eisaku (1874 – 1959) was a yôga painter of the Meiji through Shôwa periods, and was director of what is known today as the Tokyo University of the Arts. So easy to picture the book this young beauty is holding in her right hand.

Marie-louise-catherine-breslau-alemanha-meninas-lendo-1897I’ve got to get another woman painter into this collection, so here is Louise Catherine Breslau (6 December 1856 – 12 May 1927). Born Maria Luise Katharina Breslau into a German Jewish family of Polish descent, she spent her childhood in Switzerland and as an adult made France her home (where she dropped “Maria”). Suffering from asthma all her life, Breslau turned to drawing as a child to help pass the time while confined to her bed. Alfred_von_Schüssler_Lesende_Mädchen 1849The above was created by Alfred von Schussler who must have painted it quite young as he only lived for 29 years, from 1820 to 1849. During that time he lived in Germany and Italy.

Are you familiar with The Fairy Tale? Walther Firle (22 August 1859 – 20 November 1929) was a 19th-century painter from Germany. I’ve had a print of this picture on my library wall for many years.Walther_Firle_The_fairy_tale c 1900 Here’s another painting of the same scene from a different perspective. c. 1900Walther_Firle_Spannende_Lektüre c 1927And last, but not least, is a stunning painting (c. 1900) of a very clever girl. I believe she is hiding a small book behind her fan and taking peeks at it during her breaks. I hope you’ll zoom in on this one, the handling of the translucent fabric is amazing. Simon_Maris_001 c. 1900 (1873-1935)Simon Maris (12 May 1873 – 22 January 1935) was a Dutch painter.

Of course I’ve still left out many beautiful options, as there is only so much room in a blog post. And that’s my answer to the following questions: Where are the boys? The grownups? And for that matter, why aren’t there more women painters? Yay, for the three L ladies: Laura, Lilla, and Louise for bringing their beautiful work into the world. And yeah, the men are pretty talented, too. Thanks for reading!

38 Comments

  1. Joyce Ray

    Marcia,
    I love these portraits! Thank you so much. I am most intrigued with the first one of the Japanese girls. Did you notice one wears Western clothes and the other a kimono and traditional geta? The background shows both a sailing ship and a sort of steam ship, almost like the juxtaposition of past and present. I almost question if they are reading the book. Look at the daisy upside down on the page, and the Western style girl has another flower in her hand. Perhaps they re pressing flowers in that book! So much to wonder about in all art. Fantastic post!

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    • Nice analysis of the first picture. I did think maybe they were pressing flowers into the book, but I hadn’t really thought about the other differences in clothes and ships. Thanks for sharing your good observations!

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  2. Bobbi Miller

    These are lovely! How so very interesting!

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    • Thanks, so much history in every painting and I know you love history, Bobbi!

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  3. These are all so beautiful! The one by Kafu, is lovely.

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  4. Gorgeous.

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  5. Marcia, this is such a brilliant subject to write about! You always have fabulous ideas! The paintings you chose are lovely. Thanks for sharing them.

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    • Hi Kath, I’m glad you enjoyed the post and thanks for your kind words!

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  6. Marcia, this is just wonderful! The portraits are stunning, and the diversity among the artists and the subjects is incredibly interesting. Thank you for this post!

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  7. Thank you, Marcia. I enjoyed looking at and learning about these paintings.

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  8. Another stunning post, Marcia. A feast for the eyes. So beautiful. 🙂

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  9. What a fabulous collection of art! I love them all but I think I like the Simon Maris one the best. Thanks so much for sharing these.

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  10. What a nice selection of girls reading and I enjoyed your commentary too!

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  11. Thank you so much for both posts featuring girls reading. Just gorgeous, and I love your comments on each. 🙂

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  12. Of course, I love love this post Marcia!! We also had The Fairy Tale (print!) on our walls for years when we are first married. Women reading is one of my favorite themes in paintings, and there are a surprising number of them when you start looking… You picked such a great varied selection!! thank you reading friend!! xo

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    • How funny we both had/have the Fairy Tale print on our wall. Mine has probably been hanging for 25-30 years. Thanks for popping in, Rhonda! (I’m still thinking about that delicious-looking banana cake you made…)

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  13. The first painting is gorgeous, as are the rest. I love it when children open up a thick and big book and all try to peer in. For the smaller books, realistically, it’s quite difficult sharing a book with someone. But for bigger picture books, it is possible and enjoyable. I’ve had great times reading PBs with my niece, Olive.

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    • You’re right, Claudine, the largest picture books are perfect for sharing. How wonderful you are making special reading memories with Olive!

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  14. I love them all Marcia (more for my Pinterest board, thank you). I’m afraid I can’t help with your query re the artist of the second image. Is it possible the first part of the name is the initial B, and perhaps the surname ends king or kiny? I tried doing a few image searches on Google but no luck.

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    • Thanks for your efforts, Barbara. I tried all sorts of combinations of letters; perhaps he wasn’t well known. The clothing appears to be from the Ukraine. I guess it will have to stay a mystery for now. 🙂

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  15. Bette Norton

    I love your theme continuation from your last post on “Girls Reading Books!” Your selections of more beautiful paintings were wonderful! I enjoyed your creative comments of the girls hiding their books. Very clever way to bring diversity and exposure to more cultures. I have always enjoyed some of Mary Cassatt’s paintings of women reading books. One in particular of Mary’s mother reading to her three grandchildren.
    It was an added treat to have a part two of this delightful “Girls Reading Books” post.
    Thank you Marcia! 🙂

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    • I almost included a Mary Cassatt painting, but that particular one (of a girl reading) wasn’t one of her best, more like a rough draft. I probably should have sought out another by her. Thanks for your comment!

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  16. Ashley

    I can’t believe there are this many great paintings of girls reading books and you have me believing some have books even if I can’t see them! Awesome!!

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    • And to think this is only a small portion of available pictures. Reading and painting–a great combination. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by, Ashley!

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  17. Another gorgeous post, Marcia, along with beautiful paintings! It’s nice to see how books have been revered throughout history in different cultures. I don’t think we see any modern paintings of children with electronic devices (hope not). I also was wondering about the absence of boys in the paintings. Perhaps because they were outdoors more?

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    • That would be interesting—a portrait series of kids with their smartphones. 🙂 Well, I purposely chose girls to limit my options, but you’re right, I only came across a few boys reading books in long ago paintings. Thanks for visiting, Lynn!

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  18. I’m amazed how many wonderful old paintings you found of girls reading. I think that The Fairy Tale pictures are my favorites.

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    • After seeing The Fairy Tale on my wall for many years, it was fun to find the same scene from another perspective. I think it’s wonderful how art appreciators of long ago preserved all these beautiful works and now we can enjoy them via the internet. Who would have guessed?

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  19. This is such a wonderful post! Amazing that you found all of them. I love all of the paintings, but The fairy Tale is my favorite. Thanks so much for sharing! I just started following you and I look forward to seeing more of your posts.

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