Landscape with the Fall of Icarus

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Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, 1560
By NATALIE BEYER

Pieter Bruegel the Elder was a Netherlandish painter and printmaker who received a great deal of his inspiration from Bosch. He is known for his peasant and landscape scenes, such as Landscape with the Fall of Icarus and others. He was also known as Bruegel the Peasant just because he spent so much of his time with peasants getting new ideas for his future paintings. However, like this painting, there are hidden gems laying in inconspicuous places. With a man and his mule tilling farm land to a man herding sheep, to boats sailing out into the distance, one would think that this painting is just depicting peasant life. But, in the lower right corner of this painting, Icarus is drowning.

The Greek myth of Icarus begins with Daedalus, Icarus' father, who had the talent of inventing and creating amazing machines. Asked by the King, Minos, to build a labyrinth to hold a Minotaur, Daedalus built an amazing labyrinth. But, both Daedalus and Icarus were imprisoned there. To escape from this prison, Daedalus built two pairs of wings. However, before leaving, Icarus' father warned that if he flew too close to the sun that the wax holding them together would melt. Icarus flies too close to the sun and his wings fall apart and he begins to fall. Icarus plunges to his death in the sea as depicted by Bruegel in the corner. 

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