Yes, it's that time of year when, for reasons that have never been clear to me, rabbits seem to loom up all over the place. So here's one, supposedly reading, but apparently having trouble deciding which book to go for. A familiar problem for some of us, maybe.
Or, to be strictly accurate, Blue Girl Reading (1935). This is by Frederick Carl Frieseke (1874 – 1939) who, despite his indisputably Germanic name, was an American painter who spent most of his life in France. In fact he had a house in Giverney, right next door to Monet, with whom for some reason he never became close friends. He liked France because he could paint nudes outdoors there more freely than he could in America.
Last week I showed you a lovely picture by Renoir of his friend Monet's wife Camille reading. Camille seems to have loved books, as there are numerous paintings of her reading, painted by her husband, under trees, in the house, in the garden. And here is one of them. How lovely and peaceful she looks.
Some famous names for you here today. This is 'Madame Monet Reading' by the great impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919). And Madame Monet is of course the wife of his contemporary, the equally great Claude Monet. This is Monet's first wife, the beautiful Camille Doncieux, who was a teenager when she met the painter, became his model and his mistress, and married him in 1870. Sadly, after giving birth to two children, Camille died in 1879 aged just thirty-one.
There's a very interesting article about Camille here, and you can see all of Monet's paintings of her, including the heartbreaking one he painted after her death, here.
This lovely woman is the novelist Ursula Bloom (1892-1984) painted in 1932 by Charles Buchel (1872-1950). The painting is called 'Ursula Bloom on the Promenade at Walton-on-the-Naze'. Walton-on-the-Naze is a seaside town in the county of Essex, and Bloom was an Essex girl herself. In fact she often used the pseudonym Mary Essex. I'm guessing it's one of her own novels she's holding in her hand, but can't read the title. I've never read any of them and none of them appear to be in print -- is she due for a revivial?
This is Afternoon Tea, painted in 1912 by the American artist Charles Bittinger (1879-1970). I found it on my favourite site for such things, Old Painting. I'd never heard of him but apparently he applied scientific techniques to art, including, in WW1, experimenting, says Wikipedia,
with the camouflage-related use of colored filters, and with using colored lights to conceal aspects of a scene. According to an article in a popular magazine in 1921, he “painted an airplane wing with the German cross upon it, which when viewed by our [U.S.] army through binoculars equipped with a red filter, discloses itself to be not the German cross, but the red, white and blue of the Allies. Thus an airplane could fly unscathed over the German lines and return home again without being fired upon”.
Clever. But I just liked the painting, and liked it even more because the pretty lady reminded me very much of Lady Loxley in Mr Selfridge, to which I am addicted. She's played, of course, by the beautiful Katherine Kelly.
The Finnish painter Albert Edelfelt (1854-1905) painted this potrait of his sister Bertha reading with, or to, her dog. It seems to be usually known as Good Friends, but whether he called it that himself I don't know.
This is by Andrew Loomis, (1892-1959) an American illustrator. If you google him you will find lots more of his attractive paintings, but I haven't been able to find the title of this one, so I made it up. Do they have Mars Bars in the US?, I asked myself, and the answer seems to be yes, though with different ingredients. Perhaps an American reader may be able to suggest something else. I thought of Twinkies but they are golden...