A Lady with a Parrot and a Gentleman with a Monkey
Caspar Netscher (Dutch, 1639 - 84)
1664. Oil on canvas, 13 13/16 x 11 1/8". 1978.018
This work was painted after the founding of Dutch Protestantism, when subtle moral tales became typical of Dutch painting. It was probably intended for a private home. Within the delightful world of fine detail and delicate color, there is the sly warning that life’s amusements may be filled with hidden dangers, a cautionary tale using symbols easily read by Dutch viewers. The woman feeds oysters, believed to be an aphrodisiac, to the bird. Her low-cut dress and feather indicate love of pleasure. The open cage represents the woman’s lost virtue; the nuts, worthless appetites; the monkey, man’s depravity or lust.