Readers reading #6
The Travelling Companions (1862) – By Augustus Egg (1816 –1863). Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. Oil on canvas. 65.3 x 78.7 cm
What strikes most people first is that the two young women look almost like a mirror image of each other. There is a post on doppelgängers in Victorian art here. However these women may be sisters, and a doppelgänger would not usually be related.
Perhaps the women represent two elements of the character of one woman? Possibly the painting illustrates a popular Victorian theme – everyone has a choice, idleness (left) and industry (right).
One is sleeping, the other reading. Reading what, I wonder? A little context – the following were published in 1862:
- Mary Elizabeth Braddon – Lady Audley’s Secret
- Wilkie Collins – No Name
- Fyodor Dostoevsky – The House of the Dead (Записки из Мёртвого дома, Zapiski iz Myortvogo doma, book publication)
- George Eliot – Romola (serialisation)
- Gustave Flaubert – Salammbo
- Victor Hugo – Les Misérables
- Henry Kingsley – Ravenshoe
- William Makepeace Thackeray – The Adventures of Philip
- Anthony Trollope – Orley Farm (publication completed)
- Ivan Turgenev – Fathers and Sons
- Mrs. Henry Wood – The Channings
Children and young people
- Frances Freeling Broderip – Tale of the Toys, Told by Themselves
- F. W. Farrar – St. Winifred’s or The World of School
- Henrietta Keddie (as Sarah Tytler) – Papers for Thoughtful Girls, with illustrative sketches of some girls’ lives
- Henrik Ibsen – Love’s Comedy (Kjærlighedens Komedie, first published)
- Henrik Ibsen – Terje Vigen
- George Meredith – Modern Love
- Christina Rossetti – Goblin Market and other poems
- Thomas De Quincey – Recollections of the Lakes and the Lake Poets
- Julia Kavanagh
- English Women of Letters
- French Women of Letters
- Leo Tolstoy – “The School at Yasnaya Polyana”
And on a final note. Supposedly Augustus Egg’s The Travelling Companions (1862) influenced a John Tenniel illustration for Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1871). Alice is sitting opposite Benjamin Disraeli reading, alongside a bespectacled sleeping goat. But why is Disraeli wearing a paper hat? And what is the man with the binoculars up to? Curiouser and curiouser.
The ‘Readers reading’ series on this blog (this list last updated, 12th March 2017).
Readers reading #1. A Girl Reading In A Sailing Boat (1869) By Alfred Corbould.
Readers reading #2 The Bookworm (1850) Carl Spitzweg.
Readers reading #3 A Pleasant Corner (1865) – By John Callcott Horsley.
Readers reading #4 The Novel Reading (1841) – By Josef Danhauser.
Readers reading #5 The Poor Poet (1839) – By Carl Spitzweg.
Readers reading #6 The Travelling Companions (1862) – By Augustus Egg.
Readers reading #7 The Breakfast (c.1911) – By William McGregor Paxton.
Readers reading #8 Answering the Emigrant’s Letter (1850) – By James Collinson.
Readers reading #9 The Love Letter (1808) – By Willem Bartel van der Kooi.
Readers reading #10 The Day Dream (1880) – By Dante Gabriel Rossetti.