PIETER BRUEGHEL,Vintage Art Masterpieces,Vintage Prints for Sale The Fall of Icarus by PIETER BRUEGHEL {Flemish School}

The Fall of Icarus by PIETER BRUEGHEL {Flemish School}

THE FALL OF ICARUS(L)The Fall of Icarus

by PIETER BRUEGHEL {Flemish School}

 

NOT less remarkable than Brueghel’s psychological studies of Flemish peas­
antry are his allegories and ironical landscapes. He painted local versions of
The Hireling Shepherd and The Parable of the Blind which have the force and
significance of The Pilgrim’s Progress, and religious pano-ramas which, though
devotional in approach, are astonishingly unorthodox in treatment.

 

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Into such
subjects as The Massacre of the Innocents and The Carrying of the Cross, he
interpolated realistic examples of the unspeakable cruelties of the Spanish
terror. Unfortunately, his powerful origmality was mistaken for ignorance or
the vulgar fancies of a rustic who had strayed into painting.

When a very young man, Brueghel rambled over the Alps and down to the
Mediterranean, not to imbibe the sacred waters at the fountainhead of culture,
but as a lusty, intelligent artist seeking respite from the miseries of his own
land. If the Southern painters impressed him at all, it was only to strengthen
his conviction that he had nothing in common with their prophets and Madon­
nas. He was a Northerner to the marrow of his bones, but he was not unrecep­
tive to the charm of Italian landscape which he captured in many sketches.

It has been suggested that The Fall of I cams “is the record of Brueghel’s
response to some moment of lyrical exaltation when the Mediterranean first
flashed on his gaze as he made his way down the Alps.”

The explanation makes
sense as far as it goes; for the picture has a quality and pervasiveness of light­
ing peculiar to none of his other works. But in all that matters, the work is
typical of his ironical humor. In the foreground, on a piece of land by the sea,
a Flemish plowman is serenely cutting a furrow; near by, a shepherd gazes
amusedly at the heavens; at the right, in the middle distance, visible by two
sprawling legs, Icarus, the great mythological upstart, son of a fabulous 111-
ventor, disappears beneath the waves.

It is the greatest conception of indiffer­
ence in painting-an indifference which seems to flood the landscape, reducing
the whole notion of classical mythology to a couple of lower extremities, the
active indifference of a Northern master to the art of the South. With a sense
of humor that descended neither to envy nor burlesque, Brueghel pleasantly
thumbed his nose at the Mediterranean art which was enslaving his countrymen.

 

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