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Interrupted Reading | c. 1870 | Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot

Interrupted Reading | c. 1870 | Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot

On display at the Art Institute of Chicago in the European Painting and Sculpture Gallery 224

On display at the Art Institute of Chicago in the European Painting and Sculpture
Gallery 224

The title of this painting literally made me laugh out loud - there is nothing more frustrating than being interrupted while you're in the depths of a really good book. And the look on this girl's face SAYS. IT. ALL.

A little about Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot

Camille Corot is most well known for his landscapes (Corot liked to paint what he saw, preferably outdoors -which the French call en plein air. In the spring and summer months he could always be found painting outdoors.) But I think his portraiture is highly underrated. He completed a number of works of women reading and I think he gets the female reader! Personally, I'd expect a painter who did such lovely works of women to have been a romantic. But he never married and "Romantic companionship played no part in his life, which was entirely devoted to painting." In addition, he didn't start painting portrature until late in his life and he almost never exhibited them. Such a shame...look at how beautiful they are:

 

1870s Hats

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot never experienced the "starving artist" phase like many of his contemporaries, as his "family were bourgeois people-his father was a wigmaker and his mother a milliner...After his parents married, they bought the millinery shop where she had worked and he gave up his career as a wigmaker to run the business side of the shop. The store was a famous destination for fashionable Parisians and earned the family an excellent income." So what might the hats in her shop look like? Let's take a look at some 1870s hats in the Costume Institute's collection at The Met:

  1. This is a British bonnet from 1870. It is made of silk, feathers, cotton, and linen. I love the pop of color on this one - I imagine it paired with a bright purple dress (so chic!)
  2. She stuck a feather in this hat...and, well,  you know how it goes. This 1870s hat is of American origin and is made of cotton, silk, and (of course) feathers.
  3. This American bonnet is from 1875. It is made of linen, silk, and beads. If I were shopping at this shop, I think this is the one I'd buy. I'm a sucker for black and white.
  4. Made of straw, silk, and metal, this American hat from 1872 would have been worn for casual affairs such as walking.
  5. Last but not least, this tiny American hat from 1870 would have been a counterpoint to the voluminous skirts that were so popular during this time.

Does this girl get you? Need a copy of it for your reading nook? Nab one below:

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