December 01, 2020

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Mauritshuis launches website The Goldfinch, A Bird’s Eye View on much-loved painting by Carel Fabritius

Mauritshuis launches website The Goldfinch, A Bird’s Eye View on much-loved painting by Carel Fabritius

The Mauritshuis is delighted to announce the launch of The Goldfinch, A Bird’ Eye View. This website focusses entirely on the renowned painting The Goldfinch by Carel Fabritius. The user can explore a great many stories about this world-famous painting, the bird it depicts and the artist through sound, animation and visuals. This story-telling website is the first in a series to present the masterpieces of the Mauritshuis in a new and refreshing light. The museum aims to bring the stories about the paintings in its collection to life and to make them accessible to virtual visitors throughout the world.

This masterpiece by Carel Fabritius, painted several centuries ago, is still a source of inspiration to many. The writer Donna Tartt described the work as a “tiny, stand-alone masterpiece” and devoted a best-selling novel to this goldfinch, which featured a reproduction of Fabritius’ painting on the cover of her work.

The composer Antonio Vivaldi wrote a special flute concert about the little bird, calling it “Il Gardellino”(Il Cardellino, The Goldfinch).

The Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh, which exhibited the painting in late 2016, described it as one of the most beautiful and mysterious paintings of the Dutch Golden Age. Many visitors to the Mauritshuis sorely missed the picture while it was away. When The Goldfinch returned home to the Mauritshuis, the Mauritshuis posted a short film about its return on social media. This film was shared over 1600 times and garnered 258,446 views.

The Goldfinch is one of the few works by Carel Fabritius to have survived. The painting is a touching portrait of a little bird standing against a white plastered wall. The bird sits on its feeder and is attached by way of a chain to its claw. The goldfinch is characterized by the red markings on its head and the bright yellow stripe on its black wing. Goldfinches, also known in Dutch as “water drawers” (putters) were often kept as pets in the seventeenth century. They owe their nickname to the fact that they could be taught to draw water from a bowl with a bucket the size of a thimble. Fabritiu’s exceptional depiction was probably intended as a trompe l’oeil, an optical illusion. It is possible that the painting was meant to be hung high up on a wall, as the goldfinch is depicted as seen from below. At first sight it must have looked like a real little bird.


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