‘Literary Star’ The Goldfinch to Compete with Vermeer at Mauritshuis’s Reopening

Carel Fabritius, The Goldfinch (1654) Photo: Courtesy Mauritshuis Royal Picture Gallery, The Hague.
Carel Fabritius, The Goldfinch (1654) Photo: Courtesy Mauritshuis Royal Picture Gallery, The Hague.

Carel Fabritius’s surprisingly lifelike goldfinch painting has been a Dutch favorite since it entered the Mauritshuis collection in the late 19th century. But following the global success of Donna Tartt’s eponymous novel, this modest picture by one of Vermeer‘s contemporaries has shot to international fame.

The bird will be given a place of honor when the Mauritshuis reopens next June after substantial renovation work. Displayed, until recently, by a staircase on the ground floor of the museum, Fabritius’s “The Goldfinch” (1654) is now scheduled to be installed next to the “Vermeer room”—a room which has long been the museum’s top attraction,  featuring Vermeer’s celebrated Girl with a Pearl Earring (c.1665), View of Delft (c.1660–1661), and Diana and her Nymphs (c.1653–1654).

During the time the museum was closed, many pieces from the Mauritshuis collection toured foreign museums in Europe, Japan and the US. At The Frick Collection in New York, Mauritshuis masterpieces attracted 250,000 visitors in just three months—almost equivalent to the Frick’s yearly attendance.

The newfound celebrity status of Fabritius’s painting took the museum by surprise. “We were unaware that Donna Tartt was writing her book until we had a request for a reproduction to be used on the cover of the novel,” Mauritshuis director Dr. Emilie Gordenker told artnet News.

The resultant repositioning is nearer to the original display of the painting: beneath Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring and opposite his View of Delft.

While The Goldfinch is the only picture that will change position post-renovation, the museum’s refurbishment project aims to improve “the appearance of the rooms and create more space for visitors,” explained Dr. Gordenker.

A renovated Maurithuis will open its doors to the public on June 27, 2014.


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