Sir Peter LelyGirl with a Parrot c.1670

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Artwork details

Artist
Sir Peter Lely (1618‑1680)
Title
Girl with a Parrot
Date c.1670
MediumOil paint on canvas
Dimensionssupport: 1245 x 1016 mm frame: 1547 x 1315 x 125 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Bequeathed by Wynn Ellis 1876
Reference
N01016
Not on display

Display caption

The identity of the little girl in this rich and stately environment is unknown. Lely shows her as a small adult in the type of loose satin frock often worn by his female sitters.

Her bare feet and the cherries she holds in her skirt, considered fruits of Paradise, symbolise innocence and virtue. She feeds some of them to a colourful African parrot, which wealthy families sometimes kept as exotic pets. Birds were sometimes seen as symbols of the soul; such a reading would continue the theme of childhood innocence. 

February 2004

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