The Reader, also known as Young Girl Reading, is a neoclassical oil painting by the French artist Jean-Honoré Fragonard. It depicts an unknown girl wearing a sunny yellow dress, sitting with her feet tucked under her and reading a small book. Fragonard was born into a family of artisans and merchants in Grasse and began studying art as a teenager. He won the Prix de Rome at just 20 years old.
The brushwork in The Reader is just as important as the subject depicted. The texture of the girl’s dress, the shadows on her skin, and even the veins on her hands are all carefully painted with skillful and delicate strokes. Fragonard’s genre paintings were well-known for their intimate atmosphere and subtle eroticism. The painting is part of a series featuring young girls.
The Reader can be found at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC., where it remains extremely popular among visitors for its charming portrayal of youth, beauty, and innocence.
In addition to its aesthetic appeal, this artwork tells us about some aspects of life centuries ago. During that period there was great importance given to education which allowed even women to read which before had not been common practice in Europe. This artwork does not portray anything specific but offers insight into daily life during that time through subtle clues such as fashion styles or symbols within an image in form of objects for example garden statues or paintings within paintings.