Reading a Book

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 112
Date: 1873/1874
Medium: drypoint
Size: 127 x 77 mm
Signed: butterfly at left
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: 'Cancelled Plates', 1879
No. of States: 2
Known impressions: 18
Catalogues: K.111; M.110; W.97
Impressions taken from this plate  (18)


model, portrait, reading, woman seated.


Possible variations on the title include the following:

Possibly 'Fannie reading' (1877, Charles Augustus Howell (1840?-1890)). 2
Possibly 'Girl Reading' (1887/1888, Whistler). 3
'Reading a Book' (1886, Frederick Wedmore (1844-1921)). 4

'Reading a Book' is the generally accepted title.

2: C. A. Howell to Whistler, [6-15 November 1877], GUW #02178.

3: List, [August 1887/1888], GUW #13233.

4: Wedmore 1886 A (cat. no. 97).


A young woman seated in a chair, with her right leg crossed over her left knee, facing left and holding a book in her left hand. She wears a long sleeved dress with a ruff at the neck, a long straight skirt gathered into folds at the back. Her hair is drawn up into a bun or chignon high on her head. The background is shaded.


The model has not been identified. Possible candidates include Maud Franklin (1857- ca 1941), Fanny Leyland (1857-1880) and Alice Fay Greaves (b. 1852). A lithograph of Maud in similar pose is reproduced below.
Comparative image
Reading [c017], lithograph, 1879, 1887.
The Hunterian, University of Glasgow (GLAHA 49025).