Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch is over 700 pages of art appreciation, and yet its titular painting totally stole the show — until one woman made a fantastic Pinterest board of all art in The Goldfinch . While Carel Fabritius’ “The Goldfinch” is the only painting crucial to the plot, the book is about so much more. In the words of the protagonist Theo, it’s about “people who have loved beautiful things.”
Essayist Laura Petelle has got straight to the heart of this with her impressive Pinterest project, which catalogs every piece of artwork in The Goldfinch . Her endeavor honors the novel’s rich appreciation of art and beauty, and in delving through the art history embedded in Tartt’s astonishing book and pulling out beautiful pieces of art to savor, Petelle is also honoring the book’s core message that “anything we manage to save from history is a miracle.” In Theo’s words, The Goldfinch is about people who “looked out for [beautiful things], and pulled them from the fire.” OK, so he’s talking about an actual fire, but let’s get all metaphorical here for a moment: he’s also talking about saving things from the fire of history. And saving things from the fire of history is exactly what Laura Petelle’s project has done.
A recent post on The Millions has expanded on the project, matching up paintings (with a bit of guesswork) to quotes from the text. If art history has never been your thing, reading what the characters thought of all the wonderful paintings mentioned in The Goldfinch is a great way to get a bit of understanding. And if you share Theo’s love for beautiful things, it might be rather hard to pull your eyes away.
Images: Earl McGehee/flickr; Adriaen Coorte