Robert Vickrey's most iconic images often portray a single child set against a backdrop of flattened forms and shapes that are heightened by the use of the tempera medium. This rich medium endows the scene with the most subtle layers of color, allowing for precision of detail while retaining the refined surface and sense of atmosphere that are so integral to the artist's paintings.
In the present work, a young girl sits barefoot on the floor apparently lost in reverie, holding her pet parakeet. Sunlight from the window at left rakes across the floor and over the girl, locking her into her surroundings. The girl seems lost in thought with her young friend. Dr. Philip Eliasoph writes: "Vickrey has achieved an almost singular position of prominence in American painting for his empathetic treatment of adolescents...Growing from childhood to adulthood, his subjects are identifiable individuals who pose as universal archetypes of innocence." (P. Eliasoph, Robert Vickrey: The Magic of Realism, Manchester, Vermont, 2009, p. 149)
Parakeet embodies the most exceptional hallmarks of Vickrey's accomplishment in the tempera medium, which led to nine annual exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and seventy-eight works published on "Time" magazine covers. According to the artist, it is about the present work that John Canaday wrote in a 1972 New York Times article that "[Vickrey is] the world's most proficient craftsman in egg tempera painting." (as quoted in Robert Vickrey: The Magic of Realism, Manchester, Vermont, 2009, p. 11)