Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Goldfinch, a Painting by Carel Fabritius Steals the Show from Girl With a Pearl Earring, by Vermeer + FOOD: A No Sugar Oatmeal Cookie

Carel Fabritius (1622-1654)
The Goldfinch, 1654 Oil on panel
13 ¼ x 9 in. (33.5 x 22.8 cm)
(Image courtesy of The Frick Museum Press Department
and the Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis in the Hague)

The Goldfinch

Painting by Carel Fabritius
Oil on Panel (1654)
& The Inspiration for the novel
The Goldfinch

The Frick Collection was the final American venue of a global tour of paintings from the Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis in The Hague, the Netherlands. While the prestigious Dutch museum underwent an extensive two-year renovation, it lent its masterpieces which have not traveled in nearly thirty years. 

At The Frick exhibition (Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Hals: Masterpieces of Dutch Painting from the Mauritshuis, which ended this past week) the star of the show was intended to be Vermeer's most famous painting, GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING, but another painting in an adjacent gallery stole the show! Among a wall of Dutch Paintings, a delicate and previously much less significant painting hung, painted by the artist Carel Fabritius and titled: The Goldfinch. 

The reason for this interest? A recently released novel, published by Little Brown, titled THE GOLDFINCH, has become an overnight literary sensation. The plot of the book is based on this exact painting by Carel Fabritius (The Goldfinch). To the delight of New Yorkers the book's featured painting happened to be hanging in an exhibition at The Frick Museum on 5th Avenue in NYC, from October 2013 through mid-January 2014. People lined up around the block daily to see The Goldfinch and they also gave The Girl with a Pearl Earring a glance too, since that was a popular novel by author Tracy Chevalier.


Fabritius uses a minimum of quick strokes to portray the house pet’s downy body. Such expert manipulation of paint to suggest form and texture may have been assimilated from Rembrandt, with whom he studied. Whatever the panel’s initial purpose — possibly a component of a birdcage or a cover for an encased painting — the little bird chained to his feed box is a masterpiece of trompe l’oeil illusionism. Vermeer — like Fabritius, a resident of Delft — was highly influenced by the artist’s pristine lighting and composed tranquility. 

Click on the link above, for The Frick's accoustiguide commentary on The Goldfinch. Use the back arrow to return to this issue of ARTSnFOOD.
(SOURCE: The FRICK Collection, NYC)


The Painting becomes the inspiration for a novel:
"The Goldfinch" by Donna Tartt

(Story Line) 

Aged thirteen, Theo Decker, son of a devoted mother and a reckless, largely absent father, survives an accident that otherwise tears his life apart. Alone and rudderless in New York, he is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. He is tormented by an unbearable longing for his mother, and down the years clings to the thing that most reminds him of her: a small, strangely captivating painting that ultimately draws him into the criminal underworld. As he grows up, Theo learns to glide between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love - and his talisman, the painting, places him at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle. The Goldfinch is a haunted odyssey through present-day America and a drama of enthralling power. Combining unforgettably vivid characters and thrilling suspense, it is a beautiful, addictive triumph - a sweeping story of loss and obsession, of survival and self-invention, of the deepest mysteries of love, identity and fate.

(SOURCE: Little Brown Book Group, publishers of The Goldfinch - Fiction - 784 pages)

Girl with a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer(Image coutesy of The Frick Museum Press Department
and the Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis in the Hague)

Girl with a Pearl Earring

At the Frick Museum in New York City, a recent exhibition of fifteen paintings included the beloved Girl with a Pearl Earring (c. 1665) by Johannes Vermeer. This exhibition continues the Frick’s tradition of presenting masterpieces from acclaimed museums not easily accessible to the New York public.

Girl with a Pearl Earring (c. 1665) by Johannes Vermeer

The girl’s features may have been inspired by a live model, but her identity is unknown. Many subjects have been suggested, including the artist’s eldest daughter, but none of these proposals has been widely embraced. The painting belongs to a distinctly Dutch subcategory of portraiture known as the tronie. Tronies depict idealized faces or exaggerated expressions and often feature exotic trappings, like the turban and enormous earring worn by the girl.

Pearls appear in eight paintings by Vermeer, including the Frick’s Mistress and Maid. As no real pearl of this size has been documented, Vermeer’s model likely wore a glass drop varnished to look like a true pearl. The piece may also be the product of Vermeer’s imagination.

Girl with a Pearl Earring was the sole work on view in the Frick's Oval Room, with the other paintings shown together in the East Gallery. To accompany the exhibition, three works by Vermeer in the Frick permanent collection, Officer and Laughing Girl  (c. 1657), Girl Interrupted at Her Music (c. 1658–59), and Mistress and Maid (c.1666–67), were grouped together in the West Gallery, where they could be viewed along with complementary Frick Collection paintings by the represented artists.

Click on the link above, for The Frick's accoustiguide commentary on Girl with a Pearl Earring. Use the back arrow to return to this issue of ARTSnFOOD. 
(SOURCE: The FRICK Collection, NYC)

Detail of Girl with a Pearl Earring
during varnish removal and before retouching.

During conservation treatment in 1994, one of three highlights on the pearl’s surface was revealed to be a flake of loosened paint. With the speck removed, the pearl appears again as Vermeer intended. A subtle highlight on the girl’s lip, made by Vermeer but over-painted during past treatment, was also uncovered. Finally, it was discovered that Vermeer applied a translucent green paint over dark under-paint to create the background. The pigments have discolored over time, making the setting appear completely black

In the FRICK East Gallery:

In addition to Girl with a Pearl Earring the carefully chosen paintings from the Mauritshuis included portraits, landscapes, genre scenes, and still-lifes and demonstrated the themes that stirred artists’ and collectors’ imaginations during the Dutch Golden Age. Those on exhibition included: The Goldfinch (1654) by Carel Fabritius, Rembrandt’s Simeon’s Song of Praise (1631), Rembrandt’s
“Tronie” of a Man with a Feathered Beret (c.1635), Rembrandt’s Susanna (1636), and Rembrandt’s Portrait of an Elderly Man (1667); Frans Hals’s pendant portrait Jacob Olycan (1596–1638) and Frans Hals’s Aletta Hanemans (1606–1653), both Frans Hals painted in 1625; Pieter Claesz’s Vanitas Still Life (1630); Nicholas Maes’s Old Lacemaker (c.1655); Gerard ter Borch’s Woman Writing a Letter (c.1655); Jan Steen’s Girl Eating Oysters (c.1658–60) and Jan Steen’s “As the Old Sing, So Pipe the Young” (c.1665); Jacob van Ruisdael’s View of Haarlem with Bleaching Grounds (c.1670–75); and Adriaen Coorte’s Still Life with Five Apricots (1704).

The Frick Collection, New York
This exhibition
was accompanied by a catalogue
available through the Frick Gift Shop.
(SOURCE:Informaton, Photos and some text courtesy of The FRICK Collection, NYC -Press Office) - SEE MORE AT

(Editor's Note) 

At this exhibition, I stood for most of an hour in front of Girl with a Pearl Earring trying to absorb my first face to face viewing of this painting. I am so familiar with the painting in reproduction and I wondered what the differences were between the original and so many of the reproductions. What did the reproductions portray improperly? 

My thoughts mainly focused on the flesh tones of this original. In most reproductions of Girl with a Pearl Earring the flesh tones are rosy and youthful but on this, the original painting, her flesh tones are white and chalky with the green under-painting very much shining through. 

The girl in Girl with a Pearl Earring was indeed very "alive" in this original, with her intense glaring eyes looking directly into every viewers eyes, no matter where they were in the large oval room. 

The dense solid black background of the painting was very noticeable to me, in person. In many ways Vermeer uses a trick, similar to black velvet paintings, where the black background makes all colors pop and more vibrant. Indeed the gold and blue colors of the cloth and coat are very intense next to this solid black.
Finally, I very begrudgingly said good bye to Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring. I may never see her again, in person. It was a similar experience to saying farewell to a good friend who is leaving to live in a far-away land. Anyway, an hour is probably too long to look at any one painting, no matter how rare, so I moved on and absorbed the greatness of the rest of the exhibition, including Fabritius's exotic The Goldfinch
- Jack A. Atkinson

The Frick Collection
1 East 70th Street
New York, NY 10021
Museum Hours
Tuesday through Saturday
10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Mondays and holidays

No Sugar, Oatmeal Cookie
For the person with a sweet tooth and on a weight loss regiment, here is a sweet treat designed to not throw you completely off track.

2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/3 cup apple sauce
2 cups oats 
1/4 cup almond milk
1/2 cup raisins
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon

- Mix all ingredients well
- Spoon the mixture (as 1/2 inch balls) onto a greased cookie sheet, allowing for the cookies to spread
- Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes


Until Later, 

ARTSnFOOD, is an online publication dedicated to "The Pursuit of Happiness through the Arts and Food." ™ All rights reserved for all content. Concept, Original Art, Original Text & "Original or Assigned Photography" are © Copyright 2014 Jack A. Atkinson under all International intellectual property and copyright laws. All photographs were taken and/or used with permission. Artworks © individual artists, fabricators, respective owners or assignees.

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