Reading Women 8

In the final session of her course Britta offered an explanation of why there are so many images of women reading.  Her starting point was that the paintings are overwhelmingly by men.

First, the easy availability within the family of a wife, mother, sister or daughter as a (free) model, the ever present sitter.

Second, the representation of women reading lends itself to interpretative manipulation. A painter creates the female reader according to his own needs.  She is for the artist, consciously or unconsciously, a vehicle for the message he wants to convey, what he wants to make visible on the canvas.  This could be the sacredness of a spiritual event, the domestic ideal of a woman as educator, the seductiveness of a mistress and so on.  In each case he has the freedom to construct his own interpretation of the woman reader.  Last, but not least, in each case he can express on canvas the fantasies and innermost desires for the opposite sex, in short his fascination.

I’m not sure what interpretation should be put Vittorio Matteo Corcos’ painting Dreams (1896) and the title seems misleading – she is surely no innocent dreamer.  I hesitate to put interpretations on my woman reading in Venice from Take a Seat.  And it’s important to make the essential difference between the painting and the photograph: the former is constructed; the latter presents a fragment of actuality.

The Lido, Venice, 2011
Dreams, Vittorio Matteo Corcos, 1896
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