Women Reading through Centuries

I love reading and I love art. As a journalist, I often write about artists, so I decided to combine my two loves and write a series of blog posts on the theme Women Reading through Centuries.  Every post will have a painting or two of women reading, done by the same artist, plus a short write-up on the artist. My first post is about Rogier van der Weydan.



“Magdalen Reading” is part of a large oil painting on panel by Rogier van der Weyden. It was created between 1435 and 1438. Rogier van der Weyden (1399 – 1464) was an early Flemish painter. He was highly successful and internationally famous in his lifetime, receiving commissions from Netherlandish nobility and foreign princes. By the latter half of the 15th century, he had eclipsed Jan van Eyck in popularity. However, his fame lasted only about 100 years. Later, he was almost totally forgotten, until he was ‘rediscovered’ in the 19th century. Now, he is known as one of the most influential Northern painters of the 15th century.

His painting “Magdalen Reading” can be first traced to an 1811 sale. After passing through a number of owners and dealers, the panel was purchased by the National Gallery, London, in 1860. It is considered one of the great masterpieces of the 15th century.