Manchester Art Gallery

Girl Reading

Object description

A young woman seated on a marble garden bench reading from a book in her lap which has a blue cover, metal clasps and an illuminated first letter. She is wearing a white silken dress, medieval in style, but with gauzy, classically-draped loose sleeves. A dusky silken mantle is behind her on the bench. Her pale brown wavy hair is centrally parted and neatly dressed behind her head. She rests her right elbow in her left hand and holds a sprig of blossom up to her neck as she reads. An orange is placed beside her on the bench to the left, plucked from the fruit and blossom laden tree that fills the picture space behind the bench. The gilt frame has an elaborate daisy and leaf moulding and a small inner border of moulded acanthus.

Display label

Girl Reading 1878 Charles Edward Perugini 1840 -1918 Oil on canvas Born in Naples, Perugini spent most of his childhood in England, returning to Italy to train as a painter. His polished style takes after that of his friend and mentor Lord Leighton, who also received much of his art education in Italy. The fruit and foliage resemble a wallpaper design, and her dress is classical rather than fashionable. Yet this painting is not simply a beautiful abstraction. Orange blossom, signifying purity, enabled a Victorian viewer to add a narrative: the young woman is musing on love. Mr James Thomas Blair bequest 1917.237