Sir Peter Lely
Girl with a Parrot c.1670

Artwork details

Sir Peter Lely 1618–1680
Girl with a Parrot
Date c.1670
Medium Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions Support: 1245 x 1016 mm
frame: 1547 x 1315 x 125 mm
Acquisition Bequeathed by Wynn Ellis 1876
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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