The Art of Light – Women reading books by lamplight

At Pooky we believe that making beautiful lighting is an art form – so it’s only fair that we should look at some lamps that are, literally, in art form. A while back we looked at the Beautiful Lamps in Art – and now we’re turning our gaze on the surprisingly common artistic subject of women reading books by lamplight...

Now we don’t claim to be experts on art here at Pooky, but we do know something about lighting. And of the things we know is that lamps are meant to be beautiful: beautiful because of the lovely, warm light they cast in a room and onto people’s faces; and beautiful objects in themselves. So it’s not surprising that plenty of great artists have been inspired by lamplit interiors – and one peculiarly frequent subject for paintings is a lone woman reading by the soft glow of a table lamp. Here are some fine examples from around Britain’s galleries and museums. Perhaps they can inspire your own interior design – or perhaps the next time you’re perusing a page-turner by the gentle light of a Pooky lamp you can just imagine yourself as an oil painting by Bonnard…

Karl Schou – ‘A Lady Reading By Lamplight’

Photo credit. National Trust Images The Danes – as we know from the invention of hygge, love a nice interior – and Danish artist Karl Schou (1870 - 1938) was no exception. Like his compatriot Anna Ancher he specialised in subtle, unshowy interior scenes that ooze good taste and cosy refinement. This muted but enchanting painting can be found at the National trust property Hatchlands Park.

Sir George Clausen – ‘Reading by Lamplight (Twilight: Interior)’

Image credit. Lotherton Hall, Leeds Museums and Galleries Clausen was one of the leading figures in Victorian painting - you may well have seen one of his landscapes or pictures of peasants and farmfolk in the Tate or the V&A. This is a beautifully rendered interior - you can almost touch those soft furnishing and the lady’s dress fabric. And such a delightfully dainty lampshade too.

Donald McIntyre – ‘Reading by Lamplight’

Image credit. © the artist's estate. Photo credit: Paintings in Hospitals A master of colour, Donald McIntyre ( 1923 - 2009) is best known for his lush Welsh landscapes, but this is a gloriously luminous little interior scene of a girl eagerly consuming the latest Enid Blyton or Judy Blume by the glow of an old-fashioned oil lamp.

Rowland Davidson – ‘Lady Reading a Book by Lamplight’

Image credit. Lisburn Civic Centre One of Northern Irelands most popular living artists, Rowland Davidson specialises in pictures of ordinary Irish people doing ordinary things. This lady looks like her book is particularly gripping - but that dazzling lamplight is the centrepiece, isn’t it? A lot of lumens coming from that bulb...

Pierre Bonnard – The Oil Lamp

Photo credit: The Fitzwilliam Museum Along with Edouard Vuillard, Bonnard was the leading figure in the Post-Impressionist movement in French art, where backgrounds, colours and patterns took precedence over the subject matter. This is a typicalintimate domestic scene where everything is flattened so that the patterns on the fabrics, wallpaper and rug are as important as the petite Madame engrossed in her novel. But rising above it all is that absolutely splendid table lamp (possibly a Luty). If you enjoyed this post, try this one:

The Art of Light – Beautiful lamps in art

And have a browse of our own works of art – that is, designer table lamps ideal for reading by – here.