Goldfinch plate with Delft blue
The panel represents a goldfinch or goldfinch, sitting on a semicircular bar in front of its food bowl, to which it is chained with a chain. A piece of plaster has broken off the white wall to his right.
A few years earlier, Jan Weenix had made a painting that at first sight looks a lot like it, in this case with a dead partridge, which is hung on a nail, also against a white plastered wall. He was thus a pioneer of a genre that quickly became popular: the hunting still life in trompe-l'oeil. Fabritius went one step further: he decided to paint a lifelike living bird and thus made a unique painting in the Dutch art of the Golden Age.
Some art historians see the accurate nature observations of insects, frogs and mice by Jacob de Gheyn as forerunners of Fabritius' panel. Just like the goldfinch, the animals cast a diffused shadow on a cream-colored background. The difference is that Fabritius has evoked a realistic scene with a few simple additions, while Jacob de Gheyn isolated the animals from their environment. The works of Weenix and Fabritius have also been compared to some paintings by Jacopo de 'Barbari, an Italian artist from around 1500 who was active in the Southern Netherlands at the end of his life, but there is no indication that they knew his work.
There has been much speculation about the precise intent of the artist. Most art historians agree that the painting does indeed fall in the tradition of the trompe-l'oeil, but how exactly it functioned and in what context it was set up remains, even after an exhaustive technical analysis. a riddle.