THE GOLDFINCH (After Fabritius) Digital video 4:31 colour silent 2020/short extract

The containment of this beautiful free and wild bird in cages and museums while living and after its death. One can not help but associate it metaphorically with our own curtailed freedom as a result of the covid lockdown situation with its imposed spatial restrictions and travel limitations.

The idea for this film came after viewing the original Goldfinch painting by Carel Fabritius and the unfortunate experience of watching a Goldfinch slowly die on the front doorstep of my house. Those melancholic feelings were intensified still further when I discovered that there are some people who still keep this bird locked up in cages.

The European Goldfinch is a wild bird which from early times has been admired, captured and caged for its beauty. That was also true of Amsterdam and Delft in 1654 when Carel Fabritius, a pupil of Rembrandt, known for his experimentation with perspective and light, made his now famous painting ‘The Goldfinch’.

Today in the UK the wild Goldfinch can still be found  in captivity in small backyard aviaries or as dead specimens represented in taxidermic form in natural history museums.

(Note: The legend has it that the red found on the Goldfinch’s head was created as a result of the bird plucking out one of the thorns from Christ’s head at the time of his crucifixion. It was during the Renaissance period that the Goldfinch became associated with theological symbols such as the Passion of Christ and the Resurrection. Many artists depicted the Goldfinch in their paintings during that period including ‘Madonna of the Goldfinch’ by Raphael (c.1505-06). 

Fabritius unfortunately died early at the age of 32 as a result of a gunpowder explosion in Delft which destroyed a large part of the city including Fabritius’s studio.)