La Liseuse

Albert Anker (1831-1910)

Purchased directly from the artist in 1883, Albert Anker’s La liseuse (The Reader) is one of the first acquisitions made by the Société des Beaux-Arts and the Musée du Locle. The painting depicts a young girl sitting comfortably on a wooden chair, reading. Natural light enters through a window on the left, illuminating the book and highlighting the details from the fabric of her dress and the texture of the wall in the background. The scene is simple yet captivating, with a calm and peaceful atmosphere. Anker’s use of a soft colour palette and precise painting technique lend a realism to the painting.

Reading is a recurring subject for Anker, who is renowned for his portraits of everyday life. His paintings of Ins farmers reading the newspaper and working-class women reading demonstrate the social evolution of the the written word’s consumption in Switzerland, from a bourgeois privilege to an instrument of cultural and political emancipation. La Liseuse is one of MBAL’s masterpieces, and has been shown in numerous exhibitions and reproduced in various books.

This work was also presented at MBAL as part of the exhibition Le plaisir du texte (2023).

Oil on canvas, inv. 1502