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Mauritshuis launches website "The Goldfinch, A Bird’s Eye View" on much-loved painting by Carel Fabritius

The Mauritshuis is delighted to announce the launch of The Goldfinch, A Bird’s Eye View. This website focusses entirely on the renowned painting The Goldfinch by Carel Fabritius. The user can explore a great many stories about this world-famous painting, the bird it depicts and the artist through sound, animation and visuals. This story-telling website is the first in a series to present the masterpieces of the Mauritshuis in a new and refreshing light. The museum aims to bring the stories about the paintings in its collection to life and to make them accessible to virtual visitors throughout the world.

‘This website The Goldfinch, a bird’s eye view helps us to tell wonderful stories about The Goldfinch and to share what we know about the painting. This is in keeping with our mission, to share the very best of Dutch painting of the Golden Age with a broad audience,’ says Emilie Gordenker, Director of the Mauritshuis.

Source of inspiration and public favourite

This masterpiece by Carel Fabritius, painted several centuries ago, is still a source of inspiration to many. The writer Donna Tartt described the work as a ‘tiny, stand-alone masterpiece’ and devoted a best-selling novel to this goldfinch, which featured a reproduction of Fabritius’s painting on the cover of her work. The composer Antonio Vivaldi wrote a special flute concert about the little bird, calling it ‘Il Gardellino’ (The Goldfinch). The Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh, which exhibited the painting in late 2016, described it as one of the most beautiful and mysterious paintings of the Dutch Golden Age. Many visitors to the Mauritshuis sorely missed the picture while it was away. When The Goldfinch returned home to the Mauritshuis, the Mauritshuis posted a short film about its return on social media. This film was shared over 1600 times and garnered 258,446 views. 

The painting

The Goldfinch is one of the few works by Carel Fabritius to have survived. The painting is a touching portrait of a little bird standing against a white plastered wall. The bird sits on its feeder and is attached by way of a chain to its claw. The goldfinch is characterized by the red markings on its head and the bright yellow stripe on its black wing. Goldfinches, also known in Dutch as ‘water drawers’ (putters) were often kept as pets in the seventeenth century. They owe their nickname to the fact that they could be taught to draw water from a bowl with a bucket the size of a thimble. Fabritius’s exceptional depiction was probably intended as a trompe l’oeil, an optical illusion. It is possible that the painting was meant to be hung high up on a wall, as the goldfinch is depicted as seen from below. At first sight it must have looked like a real little bird. 

The realisation of The Goldfinch, A bird’s eye view was made possible by principal partner NN Group.


The Mauritshuis is home to the best of Dutch Golden Age painting. The compact yet world-renowned collection is located in the heart of The Hague in The Netherlands, right next to the centre of government. Masterpieces such as Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring, The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp by Rembrandt, The Goldfinch by Fabritius and The Bull by Potter are on permanent display in the intimate rooms of this seventeenth-century monument. More than two hundred top works by Dutch and Flemish Old Masters are on display in this classic interior, that breathes a serene atmosphere of bygone days with its silken wall-coverings, sparkling chandeliers and monumental painted ceilings. Genre paintings by Jan Steen, landscapes by Jacob van Ruysdael, still lifes by Adriaen Coorte and portraits by Rubens offer a rich and varied representation of the painter’s art in the seventeenth century. 

Note to editors: 

Visit The Goldfinch, a bird’s eye view.

For more information or images please contact:

Natalie Bos
Press & Publicity

+31 (0)70 302 3438
+31 (0)6 1444 84 60


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