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Netherlandish, Portrait of a Girl with a Parrot

Key facts
Full title Portrait of a Girl with a Parrot
Artist Netherlandish
Date made about 1640
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 112 × 79 cm
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Lady Colman, 1985
Inventory number NG6498
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Portrait of a Girl with a Parrot

The unknown little girl in this portrait looks out at us, shy and uncertain. Her auburn curls hang loose, framing her pink cheeks. She is in her finest clothes, the bodice stiff and restrictive, the silk apron sparkling white. Her overskirt is looped up to show that as much attention has been paid to the decoration of her petticoat as to the wide lace collar and cuffs. This is the daughter of a wealthy, possibly aristocratic, family and the cross at her neck may imply that they are Catholic. Although we don‘t know who painted the picture, the child’s clothing suggests a date of about 1640.

A parrot was sometimes seen as a sign of eagerness to learn, as they can be taught to speak words and phrases. In an illustration in a contemporary book of advice on marriage, a woman representing ’eagerness to learn' is shown with an embroidery frame in one hand and a parrot on the other.

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