The Goldfinch

Carel Fabritius (1622-1654)
The Goldfinch, 1654
Oil on panel
13 ¼ x 9 in. (33.5 x 22.8 cm)
Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague
Acquired in 1896
Inv. no. 605

Fabritius uses a minimum of quick strokes to portray the house pet’s downy body. Such expert manipulation of paint to suggest form and texture may have been assimilated from Rembrandt, with whom he studied. Whatever the panel’s initial purpose — possibly a component of a birdcage or a cover for an encased painting — the little bird chained to his feed box is a masterpiece of trompe l’oeil illusionism. Vermeer — like Fabritius, a resident of Delft — was highly influenced by the artist’s pristine lighting and composed tranquility.