La Liseuse

Louis Henri Salzmann

The theme of the reader, at the origin of a long iconographic tradition with famous representations by Vermeer such as Young Girl Reading a Letter at the Window (1657), fascinates many artists. Depictions of women reading followed one another, as Laure Adler shows in her analysis of 20th-century paintings in which women who read could be seen as dangerous if they got hold of knowledge.

In The Reader, Louis Henri Salzmann does not seek to depict a specific person, but rather to capture the image of a woman reading. Her sparsely detailed face reinforces her anonymity, and her deep concentration in a world that only she can access emphasises the mysterious power of the act of reading rather than the identity of the subject.

Oil on canvas, inv. FK 2151