Dutch masterpiece The Goldfinch to go on show in Scotland for the first time

The Goldfinch is to go on display in Edinburgh.
The Goldfinch is to go on display in Edinburgh.
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A Dutch painting which has inspired a modern-day literary sensation and a forthcoming Hollywood film is to go on display in Scotland for the first time.

The Goldfinch, a small 17th century masterpiece, is to come on loan to Edinburgh from a gallery in The Hague two years after it sparked a sensation when it last went overseas.

More than 200,000 queued around the block to see Dutch master Carel Fabritius’s renowned painting on display at the Frick Collection in New York. It is one of only a handful of works by the artist known to exist.

The oil painting, which will be on show at the Scottish National Gallery in November and December, was at the centre of American author Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel.

The 2013 best-seller of the same name tells of a 13-year-old boy who survives a terror attack at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, which claims the life of his mother, but takes the painting with him before he emerges from the debris.

The book is currently being adapted into for the big-screen by movie giants Warner Bros and Irish film director John Crowley, who made the three-times Oscar-nominated drama Brooklyn.

Fabritius’s 1654 painting of a goldfinch chained to a wooden box, is usually on display in the Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis in The Hague,.

Itis thought to have been created as a trompe-l’œil, an optical illusion, intended to convince the viewer that the bird in the frame is real. The National Galleries of Scotland has hailed the painting as “a beautiful and mysterious masterpiece from the golden age of Dutch art.”

A spokesman said: “An artist of remarkable skill, Fabritius was tragically killed at the age of 32, when a gunpowder store exploded, destroying large parts of the city of Delft and killing hundreds of its residents.

“It is presumed that much of Fabritius’s work was lost in the explosion, and only around a dozen of his paintings survive. Among these, The Goldfinch, which was painted in the year he died, is considered by many to be his masterpiece.”

Michael Clarke, director of the Scottish National Gallery said: “We are delighted to present Carel Fabritius’s iconic The Goldfinch in Scotland for the first time. Hugely popular since it inspired Donna Tartt’s bestselling novel, this is a very rare opportunity for art and literature lovers alike to come face to face with one of the most compelling paintings in western art.”

The loan of The Goldfinch to Edinburgh for six weeks has been agreed thanks to a sponsorship deal between the National Galleries of Scotland and the Dutch financial services giant Aegon, which employs more than 2,000 staff in Edinburgh.

Aegon UK chief executive Adrian Grace said: “It’s wonderful to have an opportunity to bring this iconic painting to Scotland. The painting’s small size is in sharp contrast to its large influence both in the history of art and contemporary literature. Aegon’s Dutch heritage and support for the arts meant we were delighted to sponsor this landmark exhibition and bring the painting to a wider audience.”

The Goldfinch will be on display at the Scottish National Gallery from 4 November to 18 December.