There is a man ploughing on land with an ox plough. This man is visible at first sight because he has been painted with bright colors and he is surrounded by dark colors of the sea; blue and green. There is a man also guarding his sheep and another who appears to be fishing. The other man looks like he is swimming in the sea. At the far end of the horizon the sun is setting and the ships are docking on the land. It looks like a society that is carrying out its activities normally before the day comes to an end. The coastline seems to surround the whole land but there is an island at the middle of the sea.
The painting is called a landscape with the fall of Icarus by Peter Brueghel (Rubel). Icarus is the man in the myths who flew with wax feathers contrary to the advice of his father. He flew close to the sun which made the wax melt and the feathers to detach thus falling from the sky. In this painting Icarus is the man with a leg above the sea at the right hand corner (Hagen 60). He has just fallen off the sky and nobody seems to care. All the life of the community surrounding seems to continue without a worry that someone could be drowning; even the fisherman who is so close to him does not seem to notice. The man with the plough and the shepherd do not even turn around to see the man. There are heavy waves that seem to overshadow the drowning man. The way the painter mixes dark and bright colors makes the viewer see certain things (Rubel). The brightness makes the characters in the painting visible. The fore ground of the painting has large objects and small objects are in the background. There is a massive ship at the front and several other boats are at the bay going to port, rocks and to the island with a fort. The coastline surrounds all sides of the making it more attractive.
This painting is an interesting piece. There are many techniques that have been used for the viewer to see certain things in a certain way. There is use of composition through use of bright and dark colors that attract the eye to particular parts in the painting. Perspective use, fore ground, middle ground, and background, is an essential aspect of the painting. Icarus has been made almost invisible by these techniques. For example the big ship at the fore ground draws the attention of the viewer away from Icarus’ leg which is behind it. The fall of Icarus has been downplayed by making the painting look busy. There is an activity in the painting; ploughing, fishing, guarding of sheep, and sunset. The boats in the bay make the viewer focus on the middle thus not noticing Icarus leg out of the water. The leg has a bent shape which makes it blend with the waves’ shape. All these were done to divert the attention of the viewer from Icarus (Michael). The sunset at the background has a warm feeling which naturally attracts the viewer away. The downplay of Icarus was an intention as the title suggests “ landscape with the fall of Icarus” (Rubel). The landscape takes the attention while Icarus is an afterthought in the painting. This is also demonstrated by the way people at the coastal city continue living their life normally not aware of Icarus. The painting depicts the unimportance of Icarus.
Hagen, RoseMarie. ” Bruegel: The complete paintings.” 2001.
Michael, Bolleter. ” Where’s Icarus.” 4 December 2011. Introduction to Digital Humanities.
http://www. briancroxall. net/dh/2011/12/04/wheres-icarus/. 14 May 2013.
Rubel, Mann. ” Analysis of Landscape with the Fall of Icarus.” 26 February 2008. 100% USDA
Approved Blog. http://rubelmann103016. blogspot. com/2008/02/analysis-of-landscape-
with-fall-of. html. 14 May 2013.