This Knee is a Royal Pain: Young Girl Reading

7:00 AM

Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Young Girl Reading, 1776
This Knee is a Royal Pain: Disney Princesses & Art
By SARAH XU

Greetings, loved ones. Let’s take a journey.

Disney princesses: idolized by youngsters, teenagers’ love life aspirations, adults’ worst nightmares. A never-ending nap? Talking furniture? A girl with hair long enough and strong enough to climb? A singing mermaid with red hair? A pretty maid who marries a prince? Where did Hans Christian Andersen, the Grimm brothers, and the other writers get these creative ideas? Let’s take a look at some possible inspirations. 

What is Belle’s favorite fast food restaurant? 
Taco Belle

A girl in a yellow dress reading? Does that ring a belle? What would one do when captured by a beast and is locked away in a mansion? Why, of course! Read! A yellow dress? Seems a little bit risky for a princess, but by 1991, all the other dress colors have been taken. If this girl in the painting can pull it off, why not give it a try? 

A Young Girl Reading is part of a series of young girls created by Fragonard called portraits de fantaisie (imaginary portraits) that changed the existing conventions of portraiture. First, Fragonard could finish an entire portrait in an hour. However, his portraits were all very similar. They consisted of half-length single figures on canvases of the same size. His stunning paintings changed the standards of portraiture. 

Fragonard was most likely focusing more on creating a portrayal of everyday life instead of focusing on recreating the model. X-ray photographs show that the painting originally had a different face and the girl was facing the viewers, but it was later painted over. The girl’s identity in the painting is unknown, but she represents the lifestyle of the upper class in France. The unknown girl has a pinky sophisticatedly extended while reading a book. Simply reading a novel shows her status, as the upper class trend at that time was portable books. The horizontal line of the chair’s armrest and the vertical line that is between the two walls offer a feeling of space and structure. 

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