Last week we looked at paintings of women reading. Today, let’s take a look at women writing.
I don’t know how I feel about this painting by Vermeer. The subject in the painting must be upper class because her coat is lined with ermine. Also, is she wearing large pearl earrings? She must be very rich indeed. How do you feel about this painting?
The first thing that popped into my mind about this painting is that the subject doesn’t look very comfortable. But maybe that doesn’t matter since she seems focused on the letter she’s writing. Maybe she’s writing a love letter to a suitor…
This is an etching of Phillis Wheatley. She was an enslaved woman who secured her own freedom. Phillis became a literary prodigy and visited London in 1773 to promote her poetry. I hope you want to learn more about Phillis. If you do, you can learn more about her on this podcast by The History Chicks.
I don’t know Vermeer well, but I am catching on that he enjoyed painting vivid scenes of women while they were writing. The detail in this painting is incredible. Did you notice the sealing wax on the floor? There is even a painting in the painting!
Do you like looking at paintings? I’m not an expert and I’m sure when I view a painting at a museum I’m probably not seeing what the artist meant for me to notice. But I do know what I like, whether I can explain it or not. This painting by Renoir is so interesting to me. It appears that the woman is wearing make-up and some type of overcoat. Maybe she’s at work but taking a brief moment to read her book? She seems lost in her novel and that’s nice to see.
I’ve always loved this painting by Fragonard. I use it in my reading wrap-up posts. And a framed copy hangs on the wall above my reading chair. The young lady looks very comfortable in her chair and leaning against that puffy pillow. She seems lost in the story she’s reading.
This is also a Renoir, but not of women reading. I included it because the two sisters are reading; they’re reading music sheets. I’ve always loved this painting because of the comradeship between the sisters and the elegant but cozy room they’re spending time in.
I saved the best for last. The woman in this painting looks so peaceful. I love the vibrant red hue peeking in from the garden. Also, from what little I can see of her house and garden, it appears to be a dreamy space.
I’m glad August is almost behind us. While I try to find something good in the everyday, it’s really hard to sit back and relax when the world around me is on fire. There was yet another shooting of an unarmed Black man by police. He is alive but paralyzed from the waist down. I can’t in all good conscience sit here and count my blessings when so many families are suffering from so much tragedy. That said, I did find the Democratic National Convention hopeful. It gave me hope for what is to come this November. My favorite part about the DNC was the roll call. If you want to virtually travel across the US and territories, then please watch this amazing roll call.
I also visited two museums in August, the National Gallery of Art (see a short tour here) and Hillwood Mansion and Museum. It was wonderful to meander through near-empty rooms admiring art. I won’t do it again anytime soon, but these two excursions should tide me over until there is a vaccine.
How are you? Are you slowly venturing outside again?
Today’s reading links are about the exhibits during my recent visit to the National Gallery of Art. The NGA is one of my favorite museums in Washington, D.C. and it’s open with advanced, timed tickets. The museum did an excellent job of controlling the crowd size.
I was charmed by this Manet painting. I love the pink, blue and maroon color scheme in the bouquet. It may have been painted in 1882, but this is something we’d see in our homes today. Pretty and timeless.
I took some time to study this painting. I love the peek into nature. It’s a perfect prelude to the end of summer and start of autumn. I wonder if the artist conjured it out of his mind or if he was inspired after visiting a friend’s home. It’s on loan to the NGA from the Fondation Custodia in Paris and since I can’t be in Paris right now then at least the European paintings can come to me.
Last painting, I promise. Out of all the paintings on display during my recent visit to the NGA, this painting is my favorite. It’s just so beautiful and peaceful. I’d love it if this was a wallpaper for my house. It belongs to a private collection in London and the artist is unknown. Thank you so much to the generous person for loaning their masterpiece to the NGA. How beautiful is this?
I hope you take some time out of your day to smell the roses and enjoy the small pleasures of life.
There is so much anxiety right now (me!). The unknown can be unsettling, to say the least. I would normally wander around a museum to ease worries or anxiety, but since I (most of us) can’t do that, I thought I’d share my three favorite museums with you. You can enjoy these virtual tours from the comfort of your home and with a nice cup of tea.
National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. is a gem of a museum. One of the current exhibits is on Degas. Also, the museum has in its collection a Da Vinci painting. If you follow them on Instagram, their stories will take you on tours of each floor. It’s really sweet how much effort the staff is putting into this.
You Had Me at the Title. “People often ask me what I’m reading and sometimes I forget. What’s the name of that book again? But then some book titles stick to my brain like a gecko clinging to a wall. They take root inside me and often the book itself proves to be just as unforgettable.”
On this day in 1916, Jeannette Rankin from Montana became the first woman to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. She was one of the few suffragists elected to Congress, and the only Member of Congress to vote against U.S. participation in both World War I and World War II.
It never ceases to amaze me that we have such incredible art right here in my city of Washington, D.C., such as this historic painting of Napoleon by Jacques-Louis David. The National Gallery of Art published a wonderful publication about French paintings of the 19th century and can be read here for free.
If you are a royal watcher like me, you might enjoy reading this article from Reuters about the heir to the Japanese throne. The current Emperor doesn’t have any sons, so his younger brother is next in line and after that his young son. The Emperor does have a daughter. A very lovely and intelligent daughter. But because she is female she may not ascend to the throne. I have thoughts on this that I’ll keep to myself.
One of my favorite paintings at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. is Young Girl Reading (or The Reader) by Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732 – 1806). I love it so much that I have a replica in my study.
Why do I love it? I’m drawn to it because as a reader I find peace in the young woman. She is leaning against a plush pillow while reading a captivating story. It makes me happy whenever I glance at it.
The muted colors are soothing and beautiful. I never knew yellow, mauve and lavender could go so well together.
I wanted to know the story behind the painting (if there was one) and paid a visit to NGA’s website. There isn’t a mystery surrounding this painting. It’s simply described as “a representation of a demure model in a lemon-yellow dress seated at a window ledge.” But I finally learned the artist’s name, Jean-Honoré Fragonard. (It’s awful to admit, but all these years I only cared about the girl in the painting and never bothered to learn the artist’s name.)
The first thing that came to mind when I learned the name was the perfumer Fragonard, based in Grasse, France. Fragonard (the artist) was from Grasse and when Fragonard (the company) established itself in 1926, they decided to name the company after their most famous resident, “as a tribute to both the town of Grasse and to the refinement of 18th-century arts.”
And there you have it. A little story about a beautiful painting that took me down a rabbit hole.
Do you have a favorite painting? Or one that you are drawn to for one reason or another?