Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Pieter Bruegel - Landscape with the Fall of Icarus

"No plough stands still because a man dies"

Landscape with the Fall of Icarus (1558-ish) is a painting in oil on canvas (73.5 x 112 cm) long thought to be by Pieter Bruegel, although following technical examinations in 1996, that attribution is regarded as very doubtful. It is probably a version of a lost original by Bruegel, however. Largely derived from Ovid, the painting itself became the subject of a poem of the same name by William Carlos Williams:

According to Brueghel
when Icarus fell
it was spring

a farmer was ploughing
his field
the whole pageantry

of the year was
awake tingling

the edge of the sea
with itself

sweating in the sun
that melted
the wings' wax

off the coast
there was

a splash quite unnoticed
this was
Icarus drowning

In Ancient Greek mythology, Icarus succeeded in flying, with wings made by his father Daedalus, using feathers secured with wax. Icarus chose to fly too close to the sun, melting the wax, and fell into the sea and drowned. His legs can be seen in the water, just below the ship. The sun, already half-set on the horizon, is a long way away; the flight did not reach anywhere near it.

If you look just below the ship on the right hand side of the painting you will see Icarus' legs popping out of the water, it was popular in early Netherlandish painting to have staffage in the foreground of the painting and have the centrepiece theme much smaller and in the distance. See below in Claude Lorrain's painting 'Odysseus returns Chryseis to Her Father' (1644)

Here's a good article on 'Landscape and the Fall of Icarus'

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful painting, one have to appraise artist, it is really nice and seems like artist have put life in the painting thanks for sharing the post..