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Jacob Maris, 'A Girl feeding a Bird in a Cage', about 1867

Key facts
Full title A Girl feeding a Bird in a Cage
Artist Jacob Maris
Artist dates 1837 - 1899
Date made about 1867
Medium and support Oil on mahogany
Dimensions 32.6 × 20.8 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Sir Hugh Lane Bequest, 1917, The National Gallery, London. In partnership with Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin.
Inventory number NG3261
Location On loan: Long Loan to The Hugh Lane (2019 - 2031), Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane, Dublin, Ireland
Collection Main Collection
A Girl feeding a Bird in a Cage
Jacob Maris

This small painting on wood was painted in the same year as A Girl Seated outside a House, also in the National Gallery’s collection. The two paintings have several common features. These include a young girl (probably the same model) wearing jewellery, seen in profile on the right of the picture, a town with a church spire and even sunflowers in almost identical positions.

Maris reused many of these elements in another painting, Girl Knitting on a Balcony, Montmartre (Gemeentemuseum, The Hague). Painted two years later in 1869, this larger picture, showing the girl full length, also includes a caged bird.

Although Maris belonged to The Hague School of realist painters, it is tempting to see a symbolic aspect to the image of a caged bird (such as loss of freedom) or perhaps a reference to eighteenth-century portraits of girls with birds by French artists such as Greuze.

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