the reading blues

“Portrait of Artist’s Wife,” by Pronaszko Zbigniew (1935)


I’ve got the reading blues!

I love figurative paintings of readers, and have noted through the years that there are oodles of them. Most of the subjects are women, and many appear to be well-to-do, with the leisure to lounge on plush sofas or perch on uncomfortable chairs near a window, lost in the printed word.

Of course I always wonder what they’re reading and what their daily lives are like. Since I also love books, I feel a decided kinship with them, even though thousands of miles and more than a century may separate us.

Recently, readers dressed in blue have been calling out to me. Perhaps I’m drawn to blue’s peace, calm, and serenity. Spiritually, the color blue symbolizes the healing power of God — much needed in these terribly troubling times. And the readers themselves seem content and contemplative, making me feel better.

In any case, I hope you enjoy gazing at these blue readers, joining them, for just a few minutes, in their fascinating worlds (I also managed to dig up a few men). 🙂


“In the Library,” by Auguste Toulmouche (1872)


“The Reader Wreathed with Flowers,” by Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot (1845)


“Lukeva Tyttö,” by Pekka Halonen (1918)


“Lili Reading,” by Theodore Earl Butler (1909)


“Blue Girl Reading,” by August Macke (1914)


“Portrait of Ivan Pavlov,” by Mikhail Nesterov ((1930)


“Girl in Blue Dress on Sofa, Reading,” by Jules Pascin (1922)


“Woman Reading,” by Henri Lebasque


“Blue Girl Reading,” by Frederick Carl Frieseke


“The Sun Porch,” by Gari Melchers (1921)


“Standing Woman, Reading Under a Tree,” by René de Groux


“First Day in Italy,” by Belinda del Pesco (Original watercolor for sale)


“Thomas Sergeant Perry Reading a Newspaper,” by Lilla Cabot Perry (1924)


“Lady in Blue,” by Médard Verburgh (1919)


“Girl Reading,” by Albert Bertalan (1938)


“A Woman Reading,” by William Chadwick (1911)


“The Blue Gown,” by Robert Spencer (1915)


“Serenity,” by Robert Lewis Reid (1913)


“The Reader,” by Eduardo Leon Garrido


“C.M. Reading,” by Philip Geiger (1992)


“Mary Reading,” by Edmund C. Tarbell


“A Woman Reading Seated by An Open Window,” by Ulisse Caputo


“Young Woman Reading at An Open Window,” by Ulisse Caputo


Do you have a favorite?

Now, put on something blue and join them.

Happy Reading!


Copyright © 2020 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

18 thoughts on “the reading blues

  1. Some of these folks seem like they snuck away from the ball so they could read. Maybe there was no one they wanted to dance with there. I especially like the luminescence of “Blue Girl Reading” and the greenery and sunlight next to the blue in “Young Woman Reading at an Open Window.”

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    1. Yes, those are lovely! So many of these women are so formally dressed. I like your theory of them stealing away from a formal ball to sneak a read.


  2. Ahh…the art gallery known as Jama’s Alphabet Soup with a new exhibition sure to delight readers and calm their nerves with the pervasiveness of BLUE. LOVE IT!

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    1. There were so many readers dressed in blue, it was challenging trying to narrow them down for this post! I love the woman standing under the tree too, but feel a little unnerved by the way The Reader is looking at us. She doesn’t look too happy.

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  3. They are special in their own way but if I have to choose a favorite, it’s The First Day in Italy. The young woman is so intently reading her travel brochure, eager to map out her first wonderful day while the old cathedral beckons right outside her window! Her legs are crossed, but her body language says that she’s raring to go! ( of course, Italy is one of my favorite places!)

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  4. I am torn between First Day in Italy, because I wish I was there, and Young Girl Reading, because I wish I was young again!!

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  5. Girl Reading not young girl! She looks so engrossed. Maybe she is reading about her favorite actress, or swooning over the heartthrob of the moment like Judy Garland singing You made Me Love You to Clark Gable’s picture!! Oh, be still my heart!

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