Raimundo de Madrazo y Garreta was a Spanish painter from the Madrazo family of artists who worked in the Realistic style; although his later work shows signs of Rococo and Japanese influence. He was known primarily for his portraits.
Aline Masson was the doorman's daughter at the Paris residence of the Marquis de Casa Riera, whom Madrazo would often visit. The artist was dazzled by her beauty, and thereafter she was his favourite and the only model. She is featured in the vast majority of the genre paintings which Madrazo sent his dealers for the international market.
Madrazo's absolute adoration of Aline became a veritable fixation. Over the course of many years, he reproduced her face again and again, to the point that the contemporary market was finally saturated with pictures of the model in the widest variety of poses.
In The Reading Aline reclines indolently on a large cushion on a divan. Her pose is abandoned as she looks out at the spectator, resting after leafing through a book now in her lap. She is dressed in the "Spanish style" with a silk lace "mantilla", a crimson embroidered Manilla shawl and a full white satin skirt spread out over the front of the divan. Visible behind her are an upright piano next to a shelf from which sheet music has been taken and now lies scattered on the piano top.