Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Making a list and checking it twice: femmes lisant

For the past two weeks, one can't hardly turn on the Interwebs without encountering a 'top ten' list about something. I could blame Dave Barry for popularizing year-end list-making but, really, what self-proclaimed nerd doesn't like a list?  Even David Letterman has list-making to thank for his fame and fortune...well, some of it anyway.  (I'm sure he's got a list of other factors).

Not to be left out I, too, tried making a trendy, hip list. I quickly realized that I appreciate too much in too many genres, none of it particularly trendy or hip, to come up with anything cohesive. I tried to make a Top Ten List of Things that Make Me Happy (thinking that was an inclusive enough umbrella topic) but got as far as "2. Pumpkin Spice Lattes" before acknowledging that I was about to commit an act of Attention-Whoring Self-disclosure akin to posting pictures of my dinner on Facebook. Since food pr0n and TMI are anathema to me, I aborted in medias list.  (Trust me, this is no loss to the world. I know what makes me happy and that's what matters.  Your life won't be enriched by this knowledge).

Despite feeling smug about refraining from Interwebs clutter I was still driven to organize and enumerate, and my 17-item Target shopping list did not scratch this taxonomic itch. As December marched on the pressure mounted until BAM it's December 31 and OMG I haven't made order out of chaos! Doomed, I'm doomed, I tell you.

And then it hit me. I am, therefore I read. And I like pretty pictures.

Eureka. I have found my listurgical calling for 2013.

So here you are, with no attempt at hierarchical ranking (or even originality, as I'm sure you can find Pinterest boards devoted to the same subject):

Sue's List of Fabulous Artwork Featuring Reading Women

1.   This first image is my sole concession to hierarchy on the list, for what should be obvious reasons. This 1877 painting by London genre painter Robert James Gordon is called La liseuse (The Reader). Provenance: The Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney Australia.

2.   George Clausen, Twilight: Interior (Reading by lamplight) (1909). Provenance: National Gallery of Australia, Canberra Australia.

3.  John George Brown, A Leisure Hour (1881). Unknown owner.

4.   Alfred Émile Léopold Stevens, Young Woman Reading (1856). Unknown owner.

BONUS PAINTING by Stevens: La Liseuse. Provenance: The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge UK.

5.   Santiago Rusiñol, Romantic Novel (1894). Provenance: Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, Barcelona Spain.

6.  Auguste Toulmouche, Sweet Doing Nothing (1877). Private collection.

7.  Balthus, Katia lisant (1974). Private collection.

8.  Attilio Baccani, Lady reading a book (1876). Private collection.


9.  Henri Matisse, Reading Girl in White and Yellow (1919). Believed destroyed in Romania, 2013.

10.  Pablo Picasso, Reading at a Table (1934).  Provenance: Metropolitan Museum of Art.


BONUS Picassos:  
Woman Reading (1924)
Girl Reading (1953)

And a bonus-bonus image, not a painting but a gisant (tomb sculpture):

Behold, Eleanor of Aquitaine. You can read about the significance of her tomb sculpture on a trip blog I wrote a few years ago AT THIS LINK.

Next year, I'll plan ahead for my list-making by studying the lists of famous artists for examples to emulate.  Until then, Happy New Year.

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