The Feeder Feed: surprise Goldfinch

I am at the Met (big surprise) and I have been surprised by Christological Goldfinch in an unusual place.

On the one hand our finch is is in usual place: baby Jesus hand.

On the other hand, our finch is in the 16th century!

Here is Perino del Vaga (+1547)


It is interesting to see this topos transported into this period.

And this is promising!


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in On the road, The Feeder Feed, What Fr. Z is up to and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. ladytatslace says:

    I realize there is a significance to the GoldFinch, could someone please explain it? Thank you

  2. BLB Oregon says:

    This museum has a good explanation of a goldfinch held by the Christ Child, as depicted on a 14th century altarpiece:

  3. Maltese says:

    I like your fascination with birds, Father. I have mine too: it is the hummingbird. There’s a priest here in Santa Fe who can’t feed them sugar water fast enough. They are graceful, beautiful, creatures!

  4. Vecchio di Londra says:

    ladytatslace: In renaissance paintings of the infant Christ, the goldfinch is a symbol of presentiment of the Passion. It’s not entirely certain how this came about: one explanation is that goldfinches eat thistles, and therefore came to symbolize the Crown of Thorns (the bird’s red head being symbolic of a wound, and of the Precious Blood.)
    There was a legend that the bird’s face was spotted with red when it flew down over the head of Christ and took a thorn from His crown, when it was splashed with the drop of His blood.

    Whatever the reason, it was a very often-used symbol, as Fr Z has pointed out in previous posts. There are at least 486 renaissance paintings of Christ with a goldfinch.

    I particularly like this playful variant by the great (but little-known) 16th-century painter Federico Barocci, with St John the Baptist (in the role of the ‘naughty boy’) teasing a cat by holding the goldfinch out of its reach…

Comments are closed.