Women Reading through Centuries #2

Ambrosius Benson (1495-1550) was an Italian painter, a part of the Northern Renaissance. Very little is known of him, and he tended not to sign his work. Like most artists of his time, he created mainly religious art but also painted portraits on commission.


Benson was one of the first artists to popularize images of women reading. It became a motif for him, and he repeated the scene many times in his various paintings of Mary Magdalen and the Sybil Persica.

In the 19th century, Benson became a popular source for pastiches, especially his multiple renderings of reading women saints. The artists copying the Benson’s style and theme were sometimes called the “followers of Benson”.

Benson’s paintings could be found in the National Gallery of London, Victoria and Albert Museum, and other galleries.