Parrot on a Ring

Artist/maker unknown, Dutch

Geography:
Made in Delft, Netherlands, Europe

Date:
1745-1770

Medium:
Tin-glazed earthenware with overglaze polychrome decoration

Dimensions:
4 3/8 x 6 3/4 inches (11.1 x 17.1 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Decorative Arts and Sculpture

* Gallery 261, European Art 1500-1850, second floor

Accession Number:
1882-481

Credit Line:
The Bloomfield Moore Collection, 1882

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Label:
Ceramic parrots are among the most realistic and prevalent of the various bird figurines produced in Delft. Their popularity was perhaps due to the interest of Mary II, wife of William of Orange and queen of England, in aviaries. From about 1650, well-to-do Dutch families kept live parrots, which were appreciated as curiosities. Their cages were often hung high, close to the ceiling, and contained a stick or ring for the bird. Ceramic parrots like this one were a cheaper, decorative substitute for live birds.

Additional information:
  • PublicationDelft Ceramics at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

    Faience parrots are the most realistic and prevalent of the various bird figurines produced in Delft. Figurines of birds were much in favor, an interest possibly stimulated by the famous aviaries of Mary II, wife of William of Orange and queen of England, first at her palace Het Loo near Arnhem and later in Hampton Court near London. From about 1650, well-to-do Dutch families kept live parrots, appreciated as a curiosity. Cages contained a ring or a stick and were hung high, close to the ceiling, fastened with cords or ribbons and bows, as can be seen in genre paintings of the period. Delft ceramic parrots were a cheaper, decorative substitute for live birds. Dutch animal and bird figurines generally were modeled after imported Chinese porcelain from the Kangxi Period (1662-1722). Chinese porcelain parrots usually were shown standing on a rock or a tree trunk, whereas their Dutch counterparts typically were perched on a ring.

    For production of such figurines, the potter created a mold, from which the ceramic figure could be cast. The object was fired and passed to an accomplished painter, who applied the realistic colors. This parrot is painted in bright colors, with yellow ruff feathers and blue used only as shadow around the eyes, with a touch of red on the wings and the underside of the tail. This representation of a parrot in a cage strives for realism by supplying an eye on the top of the ring for suspension. The parrot's claws grip the yellow ring, which simulates the brass rings to which live parrots were chained in the open air. Ella B. Schaap, from Delft Ceramics at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2003), p. 60.

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