Painting of the Week / Thomas Abbs

Painting of the Week: 42

Pietro Rotari (1707-1762), Girl With a Book

Every year at I.B.Tauris (well, for the past two) when the Man Booker longlist is announced we have a book group. Each staff member is assigned with a title, they read it, then on the eve of the shortlist’s announcement we meet in the pub armed with beer, wine and sometimes cider (different drinks for different needs) to discuss what we thought.

It would be unprofessional of me to disclose what I thought of my book, or indeed what it was (a clue: it wasn’t shortlisted). Although it engendered an atavistic response, it was not like the mysterious, and coquettishly sympathetic, women in this portrait by Pietro Rotari. Instead, I resembled Magritte’s Subjugated Reader, even down to the coiffure. TA

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