Four years ago, upon the completion of my parents' dream house, my late-father purchased a print reproduction of a work called The Squirrel Hunt by Swiss painter Albert Anker. It has since hung above a small side table in their kitchen area. He always enjoyed whimsical scenes such as these. Had he not chosen to display this work in their home, I probably wouldn't have learned of this artist or be sharing one of his pieces here today. That said, I've since taken an interest in Anker's work and also found a wonderful monograph of his paintings within the closed stacked of Chicago's Harold Washington Library. What a treat.
Anker is best known for his charming depictions of children, who were usually playing outside, eating, reading, doing chores, looking coy, ect., but he was also a very accomplished still life painter with a wonderful eye for placement and detail.
But back to today's painting. I've always felt that our furry friend in The Squirrel Hunt should've been provided a bit more space to the left, as he's bordering the edge of the frame. The image provided here is actually a photo of my parents' print. Would you believe that the only other quality representations of this painting available online didn't even include the squirrel?
Seriously! They cropped the squirrel out of the squirrel hunt.
That's just unacceptable. Note that the tree our squirrel is resting on also contains the artist's signature down towards the bottom. Something's fishy here. They cropped out the squirrel and the signature.
Anyway, what really makes this piece work for me is not the bewildered expression in the center boy's face but rather his friend who's signaling quiet to their approaching companions. This shhh-ing boy is rendered in an almost classical manner which for me brings to mind an old Baroque painting, though I can't nail it down to one piece in particular.
Behind the cut I've included a detail of that mysterious squirrel and the artist's signature, as well as one of Anker's many wonderful still lifes.
Also, here's an addition link on Anker and his fabulous paintings: