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A Sparrowhawk

Image credit: The National Gallery, London

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This picture of a female sparrowhawk is one of two known paintings of birds by the Venetian artist Jacopo de' Barbari, who worked in the noble courts of Germany and the Netherlands. It is a probably a fragment of a larger painting made quite late in Jacopo’s life, perhaps when he was working in the Netherlands.

The bird is painted alive, bathed in bright natural light – the lean creature and its perch cast a strong shadow on the wall. A small bell just above its left foot would alert its handler to its whereabouts as it was flying. It is tied by a slender piece of rope, but its bright eye shows how keenly alert it is to the world.

The National Gallery, London

London

Title

A Sparrowhawk

Date

1510s

Medium

Oil on oak

Measurements

H 17.8 x W 10.8 cm

Accession number

NG3088

Acquisition method

Layard Bequest, 1916

Work type

Painting

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Normally on display at

The National Gallery, London

Trafalgar Square, London, Greater London WC2N 5DN England

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