Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Pieter Bruegal - "Landscape with the Fall of Icarus"

In the painting “Landscape with the Fall of Icarus” by Pieter Bruegel there are many colors and details that stick out. Colors seem to vary throughout the painting. In the far end of the picture there seems to be more bright colors than dark colors and in the area of the painting that is closer there seems to be darker colors than bright colors. Also, I noticed that there are a lot of things going on at the same time. There are four people in the painting doing different things in different areas of the painting. There are also a lot of different land masses.

The first thing that catches my eye is the man plowing. He is the farmer that is working on the land around him. He is wearing a bright red under shirt and another grey piece of clothing over the red under shirt. From his clothing it seems he is part of a lower class. He is plowing with what seems to be an ox that is connected to a wooden plow. He seems to be very concentrated on his work. He is working very hard on the land around him. He is looking down at the ox, paying attention to what is going on so no mistakes are made. The man is also holding a whip which he seems to be using on the ox to keep control of it. They both seem to be working together to create a garden of sorts. It seems to be very detailed and wavy looking. Behind the man who is plowing, there seems to be a sheep herder. He seems to be working and resting at the same time. He looks tired and it seems as if he is using the long stick in his hand to help him stand up. What seems to be weighing him down is the big bag on his back. He is standing next to his dog which he would use to round up the sheep that are all around him once he feels it is time to get them together again. Both the man and the dog seem to be looking up at the sky, concentrating on something else other than their work. The sheep pay no attention to both of them and continue walking around and eating. All the sheep are white except for two of them which are grey and stand out when they are around the white sheep. To the right of the sheep herder there is a man sitting down on the edge of the land before the water. He seems to be leaning over, looking for something. He may be fishing but it seems as if he is just sitting there, passing time by the dark greenish blue water. He seems to be looking at the man who seems to be waling his feet in the air. He seems to have just fallen into the water. Nobody seems to be paying attention to the man in the water who needs help. Even though his man needs help everything else seems to be going with the natural flow of things. The ships in the water are going to the direction of the city. In between the city and the land that all the men are on there is a small island that is isolated from everything. It looks very small but it also looks as if it is somebody’s home. In the far end of the picture the sun seems to be rising but it is already shining bright. It is illuminating the land around it.

The title of this painting is “Landscape with the Fall of Icarus.” The man who is kicking his feet in the water is Icarus who has just plunged to his death after flying too high in the air with the wings his father Daedalus has made. This is in the picture because in the story, “The story of Daedalus and Icarus,” Daedalus and Icarus are on an island, away from other people, as punishment. Daedalus has had enough of being a prisoner of the island so he creates wings that are meant to fly both of them off the island and away from their prison. After Daedalus has created the wings, he warns Icarus not to fly to low or he will fall into the water or too high or the sun will melt his wings and he will fall and crash. Icarus does not seem to listen to his dad and flies high in the air. The sun melts his wings and he falls to his death. In the painting, this is what seems to be going on. Icarus has just flown off the island and is now crashing into the water below him. The island that he comes from is also in the painting. The island is the one in between the land masses that contains the three men and the city. The men who are standing around working or sitting around are the three men in the story who look up at Icarus while he is in the air and believe that he is a god of sorts. The title of the painting directly connects with the actual story. What happens in the story seems to be happening on the picture as well.

Overall, the painting and the story go together as a whole. They both explain the lessons learned in the story. One must have a balance in life or else they will be lead to their fall. Icarus did not keep his balance to her fell to his death. In his case it was literal. The sun is usually a good and helpful element to life. In the painting it is there to help everybody work and get things done. It is there to shine light on their hard work. But it is also there to play another role. It is what causes Icarus’ downfall. The sun which is always seen as a good thing now has created trouble. That is what has made the sun ironic.

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