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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 x 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 to Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane
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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