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.

Date:

c. 1870

Artist:

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.

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European Painting and Sculpture

Artist

Jean Baptiste Camille Corot

Title

Interrupted Reading

Origin

France

Date

1865–1875

Medium

Oil on canvas mounted on board

Inscriptions

Inscribed middle left: Corot.

Dimensions

36 5/16 × 25 5/8 in. (92.5 × 65.1 cm)

Credit Line

Potter Palmer Collection

Reference Number

1922.410

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email .

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