- Marie Bashkirtseff
- Portrait of a Young Woman Reading
- signed in Latin, inscribed RUSS and dated 1880 l.l.
- oil on canvas
- 130 by 98cm, 51 1/4 by 38 1/2 in.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."
Bashkirtseff drew on scenes from daily life and her family for inspiration, and the offered lot is believed to depict her cousin, Dina Babanin, the future Countess Toulouse-Lautrec. The work reflects the importance which the artist accorded the position of women in society and in particular her aspirations for female independence, an unconventional vision in a world where a woman could not dedicate herself wholeheartedly to an artistic vocation. Although famous for her feminist outlook during her lifetime through articles written under the pseudonym Pauline Orrel, it was the publication of her uncensored diaries in 1995 that revealed her to be one of the most forward thinkers on the subject of women's emancipation.
Through this portrait of a refined and cultured woman, Bashkirtseff conveys her own interest in literature and the choice of specifying the title of Dumas’ groundbreaking book, La Question du Divorce (1880) in her original title is a pertinent one. In short, the offered lot stands as a rare example of an autobiographical masterwork, which today can be appreciated for its audacious and modern subtext.