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Zwei Eichhörnchen, to give it its original German title, features two charming squirrels in another illustrative animal painting by Albrecht Durer
There is relatively little information available on this particular artwork, with several other related Durer works receiving far more exposure and research. His Owl and Hares for example are much better understood in terms of their technical construction and the process by which Durer captured these creatures.
It is the tail on the lighter squirrel which is the most memorable part of this work. Artist Durer captures the textures so perfectly that one can almost reach out and touch the proud tail of this beautiful creature. To show them eating small hazelnuts also provides activity which is not seen in many of his other animal paintings.
Squirrels are seen as playful, pretty creatures who would clearly suit many any artist. They are also in great numbers in many parts of Northern Europe and would be easy to arrange a meeting in a local park or field. The question is how did Durer manage to keep them still long enough to produce this painting? It is likely he produced several quick study sketches and completed this in his studio.
There has been a change in squirrel colours over the last few centuries with grey squirels replacing the less aggressive browns. There are now black squirrels from America who are bigger, stronger and may remove the greys in upcoming centuries.