The Goldfinch: redux

In my last post, on 7 January, I wrote about an artist (Adriaen Coorte) whose existence I first learned of while reading Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch. Since then, I’ve done two things of relevance: 1) attended a show that included the titular painting (below) by Carel Fabritius, and 2) finished the book.

The Goldfinch
The Goldfinch (1654)
Carel Fabritius (1622-1654)
Oil on panel
13 ¼ x 9 in. (33.5 x 22.8 cm)

The painting is charming.  I love that bright streak of gold on the bird’s wing, its red mask, and the glint in its right eye.  In the book, the painting becomes a kind of talisman for the protagonist, Theo Decker, and the closing pages of the book have some lovely passages about art and its effect on people.  A few lines in particular struck me, because they align with my motives for starting this blog:

“If you care for a thing enough, it takes on a life of its own, doesn’t it?  And isn’t the whole point of things—beautiful things—that they connect you to some larger beauty? Those first images that crack your heart wide open and you spend the rest of your life chasing, or trying to recapture, in one way or another?”

The chase continues.


  • Great to see this. A post card of that image has been blue-tacked above my desk for many years now – I bought it when the Goldfinch was included in an exhibition in London in the summer of 2001. The Donna Tartt book has been sitting on my shelves since before Christmas but I haven’t got around to starting it yet.


  • I’ve pondered this ‘chase’ with relation to the passionate likings formed for favourite records – usually in late teens or early twenties. There is something about the vividness of those discoveries, something that permeates our aesthetic or social or emotional beings ever after. It is indeed rare to capture that feeling in later life, but that does not seem to dull our pursuit.


    • Couldn’t agree with you more, Bruce. Even if ‘it is indeed rare to capture that feeling in later life’, as you note, I never want to NOT be trying to do so.


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