Leon Delachaux (1850-1919) was an artist living at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. His parents were watchmakers, which surely influenced his initial interest in engraving on precious metals. He studied painting with Ernest Duez and Pascal Dagnan-Bouveret in Paris. He participated in exhibitions at the Salon des Artistes Français and the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts. He also showed his work in Nantes, Berlin, Düsseldorf, Prague, and Venice. The largest public collection of his works can currently be found in France at the Saint-Vic Museum in Saint-Amand-Montrond.
Description of the painting:
“The Girl Reading” is caught in the moment of reading. The frame of the work may evoke associations of a window frame, thereby enhancing the effect of the viewer peeking into the room. We see a young, red-haired girl depicted in a three-quarter position towards the viewer. It is not a whole-figure portrayal, but only up to the knees. She wears a green dress with shades of turquoise and her abundant hair is tied up with two black ribbons. She bends her head towards the open book she is holding in her hands. The line of her gaze stops at the written pages, yet her expression seems very restrained. The background of the figure is a carved, eclectic wardrobe in warm shades of brown.
The portrait is kept in dark colors, only the central part of the canvas is illuminated by bright spots of face and book. The light emerging from behind the cover towards the figure may symbolize the state of enlightenment of the mind and the desire for development. This family memento with an individual portrait of a child may also express the love of home seclusion and its peaceful existence free from the hardships of everyday life.