|'Young Woman Reading' (1856) by Alfred Stevens; no location found|
I could have chosen many other paintings by the Belgian artist Alfred Stevens, born on May 11, 1823, but since this painting of a woman reading is my profile picture, it would be nice to post it here for you and link it to its painter. I got to know him when visiting an exhibition at the Van Gogh Museum a couple of years ago and fell in love with his paintings. Stevens studied art in Brussels and went to Paris to join his brother who was already there. He studied the works of Dutch painters such as Gerard ter Borch and Gabriel Metsu. Paintings from his realist period illustrate the life of the lower classes but he became well-known for his paintings of elegant women. Stevens didn't portray them as mythological or historical figures but as modern women, from the Parisian bourgeoisie. They're fashionably dressed in silk and lace fabrics, and set in stylish interiors with detail to objects, especially oriental ones. The painting of today was not on display at the exhibition though. I love this image. Imagine sitting and reading like that, your book resting in your lap of soft layers of skirt. You can almost hear it rustling with every single movement you make. Your foot rests comfortably on the velvet pillow in front of you. Beautiful colours and details! I couldn't find the painting's location, but a lot of Stevens' work is in private collections so I assume this one might be as well. So thank God for oeuvre exhibitions! These exhibitions allow the public to view wonderful art which otherwise would have remained hidden to us.