Why Go See This Tiny Bird?
Record packs of people are flocking to the Frick Collection on the Upper East Side of New York City to see Carel Fabritius’s (1622-1654) painting, The Goldfinch (1654), which is part of a current Dutch painting exhibit [October 22, 2013-January 19, 2014]. Though this painting is almost 400 years old, it has created quite a buzz in New York media.
The painting is of a goldfinch and is an example of the trompe l’oeil technique, a visual illusion used to trick the eye into perceiving a painted detail as a three-dimensional object. Against a luminous white wall is a goldfinch tethered by a delicate metal chain to a central feedbox, and Fabritius’s signature at the bottom of the painting. The painting has a delicate and simple composition, with only the goldfinch and its shadow disrupting the symmetry. The gaze of the goldfinch and the slant of the shadow suggest that the painting was meant to hang high and from a slight distance. Illustrations of goldfinches were quite common at the time, often appearing in scenes of Dutch interiors.
Fabritius studied in Rembrandt’s studio in Amsterdam and is generally referred to as Rembrandt’s most gifted student. While it is definitely a major honor to be deemed with such a reputation, why are people going to see this specific painting right now?
Title: Self Portrait, 1645
In late October 2013, an eponymous novel was released by Donna Tartt that tells the story of a young boy who goes to the Metropolitan Museum of Art with his mother, who tells him about the painting before she is killed by a terrorist bombing. Tartt is an author with a mass following and this novel is her 3rd in 11 years. The book has been read, loved, and reviewed by many, and bringing this painting to the Frick Collection—which already owns such amazing works—is only just another reason you should make your way over there.
By Yarden Elias