After Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640)
Old auction date “Feb/2/59” in white chalk verso;
Private Collection, Toronto
Eva van Zuien, “Rubens’s Holy Family with the Parrot: Examination and Restoration” from Rubens Bulletin, 2014
Het Gulden Cabinet, exh. cat., unpaginated
This work is a copy after the original by Rubens, now housed in Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp (Antwerp, Belgium). The original oil on panel was donated by Rubens to the Guild of St Luke in Antwerp in 1633, to mark his appointment as dean. “Rather than producing an entirely new work, Rubens adapted an existing painting on panel – a Virgin and Child – by adding planks on the left and right to create a new composition.
The Holy Family is shown in a darkened portico, which looks out on the left over an expansive landscape. A colourful parrot perches on the base of the column in the middle ground, gripping a vine in its beak (Zuien 3).” “He added the parrot, vines, landscape and the figure of St Joseph to the painting some time around 1630 – a dating based on stylistic grounds. The painting was further enlarged over its full width at both the top and the bottom after Rubens’s death.
A variety of symbolic elements can be found in the painting. The Christ Child holds an apple in his right hand, referring to the Fall of Adam and Eve. The grapevine and the parrot are symbols of Mary’s role as intercessor and of the virgin birth. The parrot is a blue-and-yellow macaw (Ara ararauna).” (Het Gulden Cabinet)