Albrecht Durer made several watercolours of deceased birds, such as Dead Blue Roller. He would gift these creatures a respectful portrait which concentrated on their beautiful colours and almost brought them back to life in the eyes of the viewer.
There are some art historians who believe this study painting may have been in preparation for his engraving from 1502 entitled Nemesis. This cannot be confirmed, however, as we are still not completely sure as to when Durer completed Wing of a European Roller, with it dated at circa 1500 or 1512.
In truth it would be wrong to refer to this watercolour as purely that of a study piece, when you see the polished finish of the painting and the incredible detail which truly brings this wing to the point where you feel you can touch it yourself. The fact that it is signed suggests that Albrecht Durer also saw it as more than just a study work for a later painting. Indeed, Durer held great affection for his animal and bird paintings.
Besides the detail, it is the colours of this stunning bird and the way in which Durer displays that to the viewer that makes this a particularly memorable painting. The tones of blue and green are provided as watercolour and body colour on parchment, with some white colours added for extra impact. The painting is approximately 40cm by 30cm.
The original watercolour can now be found in the collection of the Albertina in Vienna. This prestigious museum also holds Young Hare from 1502 in its collection as well as several Leonardo da Vinci drawings and Claude Monet paintings. Besides this, there is work from Pieter Bruegel, Jean-Honoré Fragonard and Henri Toulouse-Lautrec.