Neither the artist nor sitter of this early 18th-century portrait, showing a boy feeding an African Grey parrot, are known.
The Age of Exploration of the late 15th and 16th centuries saw parrots from India, Africa, the Americas and the Far East being imported into Europe. These exotic birds were popular pets, particularly among wealthy classes. From the mid-16th century they are seen in European visual arts as the beautiful, rare companions of wealthy owners. They are prevalent in British portraiture of the late-17th and early 18th centuries; featuring as both pampered pets and status symbols, as demonstrated by this example. British-based portraitists, including Peter Lely, Godfrey Kneller and Michael Dahl included parrots in some of their works, while Joshua Reynolds is known to have owned the macaw seen in a selection of his portraits.
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