Actually 'Interior with Woman Reading' by Poul Friis Nybo (Danish, 1869-1929). I've noticed (or maybe imagined) that Scandinavian painters are particularly good with light effects, which I assume (or imagine) to be something to do with living half the year in semi darkness.
This very sweet painting, 'Sainte Madeleine Lisant' (St Madeleine Reading) is by the mysteriously named Master of the Female Half-Lengths (c. 1500–1530), a Dutch painter specialising in painting the top halves of women.
This is 'Marie Bracquemond at the Easel' (1890), painted by Édouard Dammouse (French, 1850-1903). Said to be pastel, which seems pretty amazing to me, but presumably right.
Here's what it says on the website I found it on:
Dammouse began his art education with Félix Bracquemond, genre painter, watercolorist, pastel artist and engraver. Alongside Marie Bracquemond, wife of his master and also an artist, he perfected his painting technique. Here, he depicts Marie in the studio drawing, perhaps in the early stages of executing a painting.
He was also a well-known decorator of ceramics. Here's what I found on another website:
Painter and ceramic decorator Edouard-Alexandre Dammousse was born in Belleville, an historically working class neighborhood in Paris, and studied painting under Felix Bracquemond before working with Ernest Chaplet at the Laurin factory. Later he joined the group of artists, including his brother Albert-Louis Dammousse, working, again, under Bracquemond at the C. Haviland studio at Auteuil. After the studio's closure in 1881, he went with Chaplet to the workshop on rue Blomet from 1882-1886. His work there was in naturalistic and oriental styles. He and his brother established a workshop at Sèvres producing stoneware and, later, glass.
This is 'Sunday Afternoon' by Bruce Bingham. She is a female artist, American, lived in Malta for ten years, now back in the US. I suspect this is a self-portrait -- see the photo of her here. Lots more of her paintings on the same site.
Well, of course the cat isn't actually reading but it does play a prominent part in the composition. This is by the Spanish painter Josep de Togores (1893-1970) and I think it's called René et le Chat. More than that I do not know.
This atmospheric painting is actually called 'Twenty Minutes Past Three', by the artist Tom Roberts (1856-1931). Born in England, he lived in Australia for most of his life.
The book, of course, is only a small part of the story of the painting, but it adds something important. The title tells us the time -- it's the middle of the night, or perhaps we should say the small hours of the morning. The lamp is lit, the woman is fully dressed. There's what I take to be a pile of mending or sewing on the table, a discarded book, and a small clock. A blanket is thrown carelessly over the back of the chair, as if she has just stood up. Long hours of waiting, that's what's been going on. Inability to concentrate on anything. And now, I think, she's heard a noise -- the front door, probably, being, no doubt, opened quietly on the assumption that she's fast asleep in bed.
Hands up if you can relate to this! I certainly can. Waiting anxiously for a man, or a teenager, or indeed anyone who should have been home and isn't. An intensely painful experience at the best of times. I may be wrong in imposing a scenario of an unfaithful husband onto this, but it certainly fits the bill.
Painted by the Italian artist Mosé Bianchi (1840-1904). Lovely composition, lovely loose style. I was going to say lovely dress, but looking more closely, I see she's actually wrapped some fabric round her waist and added the red bit -- maybe a scarf -- to see what it would look like made up into a dress or a skirt. Above the waist you can see she's in her petticoat. Makes the painting much more sweet and intimate -- a domestic scene?
In the garden is where many of us will have been this week, at least if we live somewhere where it's summer and the sun has been shining, as it has been where I live, anyway. This is by the American painter Abbott Handerson Thayer (1849 – 1921), whose work I don't think has featured on here before, though some sharp-eyed and good-memoried person will probably tell me I'm wrong. He is best known for his 'angel' paintings, which I'm sure you've seen -- little girls with wings, essentially.
Anyway, I like this woman in the garden -- I love her clothes, for one thing, but also she has a sort of secret smile on her face, as if she knows something rather nice that she's not about to tell us about. Could it be connected with that chap among the flowers, who seems to gazing rather intently at her? Did he give her that flower she's holding? We'll never know, but it's fun to guess.
Actually 'Girl with Porcelain (Frosya)', painted in 1916 by the Russian artist Aleksandr Yakovlevich Golovin (1863-1930). There is a book in there too, though. I love the immediacy of it -- it's as if he called her name and she just turned round to see what he wanted. The porcelain is pretty amazing too!
It's no surprise to discover that Golovin worked as a theatre designer, and was responsible for, among many other things, the sets and costumes for the 1910 original production of Stravinsky's Firebird Suite. The vivid colour and the strong composition is very reminiscent of the decor for many of Diaghilev's famous ballets of the period.