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This small painting on wood was painted in the same year as A Girl Seated outside a House, also in the National Gallery’s collection. The two paintings have several common features. These include a young girl (probably the same model) wearing jewellery, seen in profile on the right of the picture, a town with a church spire and even sunflowers in almost identical positions.
Although Maris belonged to The Hague School of realist painters, it is tempting to see a symbolic aspect to the image of a caged bird (such as loss of freedom) or perhaps a reference to eighteenth-century portraits of girls with birds by French artists such as Greuze.
Oil on mahogany
H 32.6 x W 20.8 cm
Sir Hugh Lane Bequest, 1917