Blog Post 2 – Young Girl Reading

For this post, I decided to examine an oil painting titled “Young Girl Reading,” painted by Jean-Honore Fragonard in 1770. I chose this painting because it’s quite familiar to me, as a copy of it used to hang in my grandma’s living room. I grew up seeing it a lot, and I always admired it because I made up stories about the subject of the painting, and assumed she loved to read, which I related to.

Coming from someone who does not know anything about the nuance or technicality of oil paintings, I like this piece. I like this painting because I find the subject to be very beautifully depicted, and I appreciate the fact that she seems to be reading for pleasure rather than academics, which was a bold statement for the time. I would definitely label this a beautiful work of art. However, according to Kant, all of the reasons I stated above make me an unfair judge of this artwork, and since I am not a fair judge of whether or not this painting is beautiful, I will refer to outside sources to make the determination.

The above article, written by an anonymous author, addresses this painting in full detail. She mentions that the dynamic use of color and texture contribute to create a masterful work of art. If you are unfamiliar with art, like I am, this article will be very interesting to you, as the author describes the brush techniques in layman terms. The author states that even among Fragonard’s critics, this painting is a favorite, “due its inherent charm and joyful mood.” This author’s assessment of the artwork is that it is a beautiful piece because it makes you wonder about the subject.

In order to determine if Kant would agree with this anonymous author or not, let’s first describe the First Moment of his Critique of Judgement. The First Moment talks about Kant’s theory that in order to be a fair judge of taste, one must be disinterested. According to Kant on page 282 of the text, “We must not be in the least prejudiced in favor of the existence of the things, but be quite indifferent in this respect, in order to play the judge in things of taste.”

I am drawn to this painting because I love to read, I like the subject’s appearance, and am sentimentally attached to the artwork. Therefore, I am an unfair judge because I am not indifferent to the existence of the object. The author of this article does not have any of the same biases that I do, and offers a fair critique of the painting in her blog post. I believe Kant would trust her judgement on this piece of art.

I do not think anyone would argue that this painting is not beautiful; even to the untrained eye, it is a work of art. However, I suppose one could argue that we don’t know enough about our anonymous author to determine her disinterest. To which I say, her blog covers many different forms of art, including music, dramas, dance, and poetry. If her posts spanned artwork alone, I could see the validity of the argument. I believe the variety of her critiques proves that she is not interested in artwork alone, but rather, anything beautiful.

4 Comments

  1. haleykeith1 says:

    Hello Emily,
    This is a wonderful piece of art. My first thought, when looking at the thumbnail, was that the painting reminded me of beauty and the beast. I also chose to cover moment one for my blog. I agree with your assessment of yourself as a judge and your assessment with the author of the article. You used all of Kant’s specifications to come to your conclusion!

    Like

    1. emilyvaneaton99 says:

      Beauty and the Beast is my favorite movie. Maybe that is why I was so drawn to this painting as a kid. Thank you for your comment!

      Like

  2. Love your analysis – and you are insightful in your assessment of this anonymous author, who is very much an art novice who enjoys all forms of beauty. 🙂 I look forward to reading more here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. emilyvaneaton99 says:

      Thank you so much for reading my post! I came across your blog in trying to find sources for this school assignment and ended up being fascinated by the writing you’ve done. I loved your recent post about Van Gogh’s Olive Trees. I followed your blog so I will be notified of new posts.

      Liked by 1 person

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