fall of icarus bruegel

fall of icarus bruegel

Landscape with the Fall of Icarus has a slightly inaccurate balance between the character in the foreground and the background ships with the sizes not entirely what you would expect from such a skilled artist. Many believe however that this was a deliberate ploy by the artist to strengthen the power of the focal points of the work, and artistic license is an accepted element to many successful oil paintings right across art history.
Fall of Icarus by Bruegel was a painting which was subjected to intensive scrutiny by art academics who wanted to prove who was the original creator of this painting. The work was carried out in 1996 and conclusions were drawn that it was unlikely to have been from Pieter Bruegel’s own hand though with no other artist being linked to it, Fall of Icarus will probably still remain within his portfolio for years to come.

a parable on human aspiration. Daedalus and his son, Icarus, were imprisoned on the island of Crete. Daedalus created wings to fly away. Icarus, ambitiously, flew too near the sun. The wax holding his wings together melted and he plunged into the sea and was drowned.

Landscape with the Fall of Icarus (c. 1555) is an oil painting attributed to Pieter Bruegel the Elder. It shows the Greek mythological figure, Icarus, plunging into the sea in the lower right-hand corner.

Fall of icarus bruegel
The ploughman, shepherd and angler are mentioned in Ovid’s account of the legend; they are: “astonished and think to see gods approaching them through the aether”, which is not entirely the impression given in the painting. The shepherd gazing into the air, away from the ship, may be explained by another version of the composition (see below); in the original work there was probably also a figure of Daedalus in the sky to the left, at which he stares. There is also a Flemish proverb (of the sort imaged in other works by Bruegel): “And the farmer continued to plough. ” (En de boer . hij ploegde voort”) pointing out the ignorance of people to fellow men’s suffering. The painting may, as Auden’s poem suggests, depict humankind’s indifference to suffering by highlighting the ordinary events which continue to occur, despite the unobserved death of Icarus.
Though the world landscape, a type of work with the title subject represented by small figures in the distance, was an established type in Early Netherlandish painting, pioneered by Joachim Patiner, to have a much larger unrelated “genre” figure in the foreground is original and represents something of a blow against the emerging hierarchy of genres. Other landscapes by Bruegel, for example The Hunters in the Snow (1565) and others in that series of paintings showing the seasons, show genre figures in a raised foreground, but not so large relative to the size of the image, nor with a subject from a “higher” class of painting in the background.

Fall of icarus bruegel

About suffering, they were never wrong,
The old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position: how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along…

Still, it hurts that this iconic poem about what for so many years was considered an iconic painting is no longer entirely correct. A friend suggested that by changing only a couple of letters in Auden’s title, the poem could be completely accurate: “Musée des Faux Arts.”

Landscape with The Fall of Icarus, ca. 1590–95, Circle of P. Bruegel the Elder, Museum van Buuren, Brussels, Belgium
Landscape with the Fall of Icarus was long thought to be created by the leading painter of Dutch and Flemish Renaissance painting, Pieter Bruegel the Elder. The composition is so dazzling that numerous curators identify it as one of the famous painter’s creations. However, technical examinations from the 1990s caused the attribution to be regarded as very doubtful, and the painting, perhaps painted in the 1560s, is now usually seen as a good early copy by an unknown artist of Bruegel’s lost original, perhaps from about 1558. There are two arguments for that thesis – the painting is in oil whereas Bruegel’s other paintings on canvas are in tempera. The other thing is that the specialists see it to have a relatively weak quality compared to other Bruegels, although this question is complicated by later overpainting. The label on the museum wall for the painting includes a question mark just after Bruegel’s name.