10 years of happiness and 28 years of grief in the life of the artist Vasily Surikov
The personal life of prominent people always attracts the attention of readers, especially if it is full of piquant details, incredible stories, secrets and mysteries. But today we will talk…

Continue reading →

What is encrypted in the paintings of the most mysterious artist of the Golden Age: Alphabet of painting by Jan Vermeer
One of the most famous artists of the Golden Age of Holland. His refined painting technique, experiments with optics and perspective, the unique way of transmitting light and the poetic…

Continue reading →

Fantastic take-off and the tragic end of the discoverer of Russian porcelain Dmitry Vinogradov
Russia has always been famous for outstanding talents, however, the indisputable fact is that these people did not always have sweet and free in their homeland. Russian history remembers many…

Continue reading →

Secrets of the painting “A Lady with a Parrot by the Window”: How the Smile of a Heroine and a Bird are Connected

Caspar Netscher is a Dutch artist of German descent, an outstanding portrait painter, and also a master of depicting everyday scenes of the Dutch elite. He also developed a technique that allowed him to imitate a wide range of textures: be it linen, satin or coarse fibers of an oriental carpet. Caspar Netscher is part of a triad of prominent Dutch Golden Age masters along with Rembrandt and Vermeer.

From the life of an artist

Netsher was the son of sculptor Johann Netscher. As a child, he was sent to Amsterdam to study with Hendrick Coster, a little-known artist of still lifes and portraits. In 1664, Netscher moved to Deventer to complete his studies in the workshop of Gerard Terborch. Having done this, he went to Italy in 1658, then to Bordeaux, where Netscher married Margaret Godin and lived there for several years. In 1662, in The Hague, Netscher became a member of the Society of Artists. At this early stage, he wrote small genre compositions, preferring the dark colors and themes of everyday life, which Terborch clearly influenced.

Netsher gradually acquired his own style and in the mid-1660s began to paint more complex scenes with luxurious interiors and richly dressed characters. His works show a special interest in the depiction of silk and brocade. Since 1667, Netsher paid more and more attention to portraiture, eventually becoming a very famous portrait painter. His models are graceful, aristocratic and charming. Among his models was Amalia von Solms, widow of Prince Friedrich Henry.

During this period, he also created historical paintings, but retained the use of small format in both genres. Netsher died in The Hague in 1684. His sons Theodore, Constantine and Anthony continued the work of their father as portrait painters.

The plot of the picture “A lady with a parrot at the window”

“A Lady with a Parrot by the Window” is one of Netscher’s best paintings and one of the indisputable icons of Dutch Golden Age genre painting. It depicts an elegant girl in a luxurious golden dress, looking coquettishly at the viewer. At the same time, the girl feeds an African gray parrot sitting on her right hand. From the darkness of the room, a page carefully looking at her, holding a silver tray. A luxurious oriental rug spilling over the lower ledge reinforces the illusion, as if deliberately hiding part of the Roman numerals carved in stone.

The masterful writing of the picture and the sophisticated technique are manifested in all the details of the picture: a steel bird cage, a shimmering woman’s dress, which Netsher modeled with softer and smoother strokes, a bronze curtain, oriental patterns of an expensive carpet. Netscher’s brush is elegant, its textures are dazzling, and the colors in the picture shine disarmingly. What is the sparkle of pearls on the neck of the model!

Composition

The arched window creates the illusion of a “keyhole”, a popular technique in the work of Jan Vermeer, when the viewer accidentally becomes an accomplice in the scene and invades the space of the picture. A sprawling carpet reduces the obstacle and invites the viewer to enjoy this cute scene. This compositional technique makes the young woman even more charming and attractive.

Symbolism of a Parrot

This exotic pet was purchased by Dutch merchants in West Africa. The symbolism of a parrot is closely related to its features – parrots can copy and recreate what they hear without any changes (without filters). Therefore, in art, they are an attribute of “telling the truth.” The parrot appears as a true representation of the human “I”.
In Dutch painting, this bird is most often noticeable and famous than anywhere else. The inclusion of parrots in still lifes is very interesting, because it connects parrots with the material world, wealth and trade. As an exotic creature from non-European countries, parrots were highly regarded during the colonial period. And not only living birds were valued: even feathers of parrots were valued in this era.

In the portrait genre, a parrot often pretends to be people or replaces them, plays the role of a woman’s beloved, or taunts the stupidities of human behavior. This is a mirror of human nature.

The parrot can also function as a symbol of the Virgin Mary. Today, a symbolic association may seem strained, but it was believed that the parrot looked like Mary. Both the parrot and Virgo were associated with typically unbelievable situations: if a parrot can be taught to speak, then a virgin can become pregnant and give birth. The use of parrots in art has significantly changed their symbolic connection with Mary (emphasizing the wonderful nature of virgin birth). Already in ancient times, the parrot was considered a miracle of nature because of its supernatural ability to imitate and reproduce human speech: the Virgin conceived due to the greeting of the angel and the message, in the same inexplicable way the parrot reproduces the heard speech. In addition, the emblems of Mary sometimes depict a parrot sitting on the tallest and thinnest tree branch and out of the reach of the snake: again a symbol of the liberation of Mary from original sin.

What is the secret of the paintings of Giuseppe Arcimboldo, which inspired Dali and other surrealists of the XX century
Fantastic talent and eccentric portraits made Giuseppe Arcimboldo, one of the strangest Renaissance artists, world famous. His compositions of portraits of flowers, fruits, leaves, fish and books are unique in…

...

The tragedy of the author of the most famous portrait of Chekhov: How he lost his family and paintings, and why he got to Solovki Osip Braz
Over several centuries of development, Russian culture has presented the world with a galaxy of brilliant painters, whose works are included in the world treasury of fine art. Among them…

...

Giuseppe Arcimboldo - a phenomenal artist of the 16th century
This year marks almost 430 years since the death of Giuseppe Arcimboldo, an Italian artist known for his original portraits of fruits, vegetables, flowers and fish. Giuseppe so skillfully portrayed…

...

What are the secret meanings of the image of a parrot in the paintings of great artists of different eras
For artists of the Gothic, Early Renaissance and High Renaissance, birds were part of a rich visual symbolism. In a society with limited literacy, allegorical images were vital for the…

...