Two owls wearing human clothes: one sports the blue woolen cap worn by fishermen and peasants in the Netherlands at this time, the other wears the ruffs fashionable among the merchant classes and a black cloak of the kind worn by women in winter. The two birds skate across the ice against the backdrop of a winter landscape. A banner above their heads reads “How well we go together,” possibly a reference to the familiar saying “Birds of a feather flock together”.
The painting was part of a series depicting animals in human garb. The other paintings are now only known through print reproductions. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the owl was associated with winter. Perhaps that fact offers some aid in interpreting the symbolism of this enigmatic painting.
Credit Line: Text courtesy of the National Gallery of Denmark.