Prior to the 18th century reading was usually done out loud. But with the age of Enlightenment arrived the priority of education. More people became literate, books became more plentiful and available, and with that came the portrait of the reader. These depictions expressed the popularity of silent reading in the era as well as expressed the sitter's sense of enlightenment achieved by the act of internalizing the enlightened word. Finally, a portrait style arrived allowing women to be depicted in a way to display their intelligence. Because of this, many women chose to be portrayed accompanied by a book (Madame de Pompadour was most always depicted with a book). Unfortunately this style remained popular through the following century when the enlightenment was forgotten. The reader portrait took on a different meaning in which it came to be a sort of feminine symbol of idleness. Here are some select images of some enlightened and learned ladies.