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Frans van Mieris the Elder, A Woman in a Red Jacket feeding a Parrot

Key facts
Full title A Woman in a Red Jacket feeding a Parrot
Artist Frans van Mieris the Elder
Artist dates 1635 - 1681
Date made about 1663
Medium and support Oil on copper
Dimensions 22.5 × 17.3 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1871
Inventory number NG840
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
A Woman in a Red Jacket feeding a Parrot
Frans van Mieris the Elder

A young woman sits, one delicate hand outstretched and holding an almond to feed to a parrot. On one finger she has a thimble – she has stopped sewing to feed the bird, an African Grey that hunches over, assessing her gift with a beady eye. The model used for the young woman is thought to be Cunera van de Cock, who married Frans van Mieris in 1657.

Van Mieris was one of the most successful genre and portrait painters in the Dutch Republic at the time. This tiny, exquisite painting was one of the most successful he ever produced, being copied many times. The work is on copper, which makes his brushstrokes virtually invisible and allows him to achieve subtlety and realism in his portrayal of textures, from the rich fabrics of the young woman’s costume down to the detail of the braid on the back of her chair.

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