I was thinking about paintings that feature people reading. The ones that came to mind showed mostly a woman or young girl reading a book in quiet contemplation in an interior setting – private moments (perhaps voyeuristic too). Most of these artworks feature “western” females – perhaps there’s a specific genre and scholarship on western females reading in art? But I didn’t venture much further down that route than the Wikipedia page Women reading in art, the blog Reading and Art (which has many examples), also 20 powerful paintings of parents reading to children and ART & Reading / Paintings.
I started looking for images of Chinese people reading. We had asked Zhang Xinxin if we could use her artwork of children reading on the steps of the bookshop for our banner and were delighted when she agreed. Surely there must be more?
Searching online I found plenty of photographs of Chinese people reading – especially children – but I was really looking for paintings. After a while, I discovered that there are many Chinese paintings and artworks (including public sculpture) that feature people reading. I’ve pulled the images I found together as Chinese people reading on our Pinterest page. (It wasn’t easy to give full captions for all the images – for details, follow the links on Pinterest)
There are also themes relating to people reading, often expressed in four-character-phrase captions, with a story behind them, such as these:
If you’re feeling diligent, there’s a list of 30 more sayings here (in Chinese) .