CAREL FABRITIUS (Dutch, 1622-54)
Signed and dated 1654
Oil on panel 33.5 x 22.8 cm
The Hague, Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis
A Goldfinch does tricks and sings beautiful songs. This bird can fill a tiny cup with water from a container and pull it on a chain to his feeding box.
Pets were important in the Netherlands in the seventeenth century. People even brought them to church.
If you print the picture and pin it high on the wall you may think the bird is alive. This is what Carel Fabritius wants us to feel.
Signed and dated lower left 1654
Oil on panel, 68 x 58 cm
Schwerin, Staatliches Museum Schwerin
Is the Sentry (a soldier who keeps guard) asleep or cleaning his gun?
What is he guarding?
His dog is certainly wide awake and is watching his master's every move.
Can you see the lower half of a picture of a monk (Saint Anthony Abbott) with a pig?
Please spot the legs of another soldier.
Is he coming to wake, have a chat or change places with the guard?
The Sentry detail
Zoom in on the pictures and look at the quick, rich brushstrokes.
Only about twelve pictures by Fabritius exist today. Had he lived a longer life he might have become as famous as his teacher Rembrandt and Vermeer who also lived in Delft. Fabritius died in an explosion of the Delft gunpowder magazine. When The Goldfinch was restored they found tiny scratches. Perhaps the picture had been pulled from the rubble of the artist's studio.
Oil on panel, 65 x 49 cm
Rotterdam, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen