I have her on my mantle and I love everything about this painting. I have loved this painting a long time. When I was about to begin junior high school we took a tour of the school while in sixth grade. The library was, of course, my favorite place and there she was prominently placed for all to see. I fell in love and never kept trying to find out more about this painting.
A Young Girl Reading is an 18th century painting by Jean-Honoré Fragonard. The painting is of an unidentified girl reading an unidentified book. I have searched for the identity of the book and the girl and it is nowhere. This perplexes me. Fragonard painted many paintings of girls and it appears upon closer inspection (via x-ray) this canvas used to bear another person’s image, although that person’s identify is unknown, as well. How frustrating. You may want to look at these books as reference:
- Bailey, Colin B. (2003). The Age of Watteau, Chardin, and Fragonard: Masterpieces of French Genre Painting. Yale University Press. pp. 286–287. ISBN 0-300-09946-0.
- Taft, W. Stanley (2000). The Science of Paintings. Springer Press. pp. 79–80. ISBN 0-387-98722-3.
Some commentary on the painting states Fragonard painted each of the textures in the painting in a different brush stroke which left the viewer feeling a “busy”, not relaxed and absorbed feeling as the painting seems to portray. I think that’s looking into it a bit much, but to each his own. Perhaps busy could be associated with Fragonard’s works. It is said by his friends he finished these paintings in no more than an hour! His bold, energetic strokes were almost scratched on the surface of the canvas because he was working so quickly.
Using the wooden tip of a brush, Fragonard scratched her ruffed collar into the surface of the paint. This is the “swordplay of the brush” that Fragonard’s contemporaries described, not always with universal approval. The above quote courtesy of the National Gallery of Art.
How does this painting make you feel? What is your favorite painting and why?