The dimensions of this painting are 15.8 x 11.7 cm, and the Garza can be viewed at the British Museum, London, UK. While engravings and woodcarvings preoccupied most of his early artistic endeavours, Dürer also created paintings using body colour and watercolours. It was during a practical sabbatical while living in Italy - between 1504 and 1507 - that saw Dürer resume painting, focusing mainly on linen using tempera materials. Albrecht Dürer was influenced and intrigued by both landscapes and nature as he always maintained that studying the natural environment could unveil the underlying truth of life and energy that he was attempting to discover through his paintings.
Garza is one such example of his exceptional painting ability while living in Italy. It is a beautiful watercolour painting that precisely captures the heron's feather structure, composition, and bright colour. He delicately uses watercolours to blend the soft graduating colour of the feathers and overpaints extended detail with gouache (which is an opaque watercolour) to emphasise the ragged edges of the bird's feathers. What is unique about this nature painting is the one leg prominently showing - by itself - on the left-hand side of his painting. Herons have long and strong legs, and they have a unique 'zigzag' feature that he has superbly accomplished. Dürer has also accurately captured the heron's elongated foot, as they have three forward-pointing long, thin toes, with one pointing backwards.
While living and painting in Italy, Dürer became one of the most prominent painters of the Northern Renaissance period. Dürer's finished paintings and sketches have continually demonstrated his extraordinary powers of observation, combined with a detailed and meticulous technique across a range of different media. Around the time he was living in Italy, renowned art critics believed that painting animals was solely a display of technical skill and did not attempt to strive for the creative vision that befitted great art. However, Albrecht Dürer was one of the first artists to view animals and birds as worthy of creative attention.
He artistically demonstrated this view by choosing numerous and diverse animal and bird subjects using a range of watercolours. His paintings and prints have become immensely popular, and they are frequently reproduced and sold to painting admirers globally. Dürer's watercolours, oil paintings, drawings, and prints clearly demonstrate his meticulous and patient technique performed with incredible skill.