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Interrupted Reading

A  pensive faced woman sits, slightly hunched, holding a book.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A  pensive faced woman sits, slightly hunched, holding a book.


c. 1870


Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (French, 1796–1875)

About this artwork

Interrupted Reading is among the most compelling of Camille Corot’s late figure paintings. Corot almost never exhibited these studies of the human form, preferring instead to publicize the idyllic landscapes that were his specialty. To emphasize the private nature of Interrupted Reading, Corot enclosed his model within the protective environment of the artist’s studio. The mood of the painting is introspective and somewhat melancholic, the very essence of the Romantic sensibility. The muse-like image of a woman reading a book was a popular one in nineteenth-century art, but Corot chose to show his model pausing, looking up from this activity. Having spent a number of years in Italy and being a lover of everything Italian, the artist often furnished his models with Italianate costumes such as the one worn here. Whereas Corot’s subject matter is traditional, his technique is not. With direct and bold brushwork, he explored the human form as a construction of masses that support and balance one another. This broad handling is complemented by the artist’s obvious delight in detail—the ribbon in the model’s hair, the delicate earrings, the deep folds in the skirt. Here he combined a profound sense of formal structure with the dreamy softness and intimacy that characterize his most famous landscapes.


On View, Gallery 224


Painting and Sculpture of Europe


Jean Baptiste Camille Corot


Interrupted Reading


France (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



Oil on canvas, mounted on board


Inscribed middle left: Corot


92.5 × 65.1 cm (36 5/16 × 25 5/8 in.); Framed: 130.9 × 104.2 × 14 cm (51 1/2 × 41 × 5 1/2 in.)

Credit Line

Potter Palmer Collection

Reference Number


IIIF Manifest  The International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) represents a set of open standards that enables rich access to digital media from libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions around the world.

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Extended information about this artwork

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