The Goldfinch in art and symbolism

The Goldfinch in art and symbolism

Hello friends! Today I present you my second painting from the `Birds` collection, `The European goldfinch`. As the previous bird painting, `the blue tit`, this one has a story behind it as well.etsy3The goldfinch is a common European bird, known by its scientific name, Carduelis carduelis. We can find it in Europe, North Africa, and recently was successfully introduced in Australia and New Zealand. The bird is recognized by the colors of its plumage which is golden-brown on the body and red on its head. Goldfinches are commonly kept and bred in captivity as pets, because of their distinctive appearance and pleasant song. Unfortunately, the popularity of goldfinches as a cage bird in Victorian Britain led to huge numbers being trapped to supply demand, causing the population to crash.

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This bird might be common but its symbol is a strong one. It’s not much known that the goldfinch appear in the Christian symbolism. Because of its favorite food, thistle seeds, it is associated with Christ’s Passion and his crown of thorns. The goldfinch appears in many paintings of the Madonna and child, including the Madonna del cardellino or Madonna of the Goldfinch, painted by the Italian renaissance artist, Raphael (1505-1506). The painting represents John the Baptist offering a goldfinch to Christ as a symbol and warning of his future. An other painting with the same name, was painted by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (1767-1770). It is also an emblem of endurance, fruitfulness, and persistence. Because it symbolizes the Passion of Christ, the goldfinch is considered a “savior”.

 

(Madonna of the Goldfinch – Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (1767-1770) (right), Raphael (1505-1506) (left))

This little bird inspired many artists, not only painters. Antonio Vivaldi, composed a Concerto in D major for Flute “Il Gardellino” (RV 428, Op. 10 No. 3), where the singing of the goldfinch is imitated by a flute. Also, `​The Goldfinch` is title of a novel written by Donna Tartt, who won the Pulitzer prize for fiction, in 2014. A turning point in the plot occurs when the narrator, Theo, sees his mother’s favorite painting, `The Goldfinch` by Carel Fabritius (1654) in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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My own version of the goldfinch is a 13×18 cm oil painting on stretched canvas. If you are interested, you can find the original available on my shop .

etsy3The goldfinches on the railway paling were worth looking at
A man might imagine then
Himself in Brazil and these birds the birds of paradise

(The Great Hunger by Patrick Kavanagh)

Watermark in Full Color

 

 

 

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