In 2018, I was at the Brueghel exhibition in Vienna. The youngest son was then 6 months old. The duty to maneuver with a baby carriage in the crowd fell to my husband). While I was studying the paintings.
It was, of course, a hit show! Yes, even before any self-isolation there. Almost all the works of the great Dutch master were collected in one place.
But! I did not see this work there – “The Fall of Icarus”.
But this is one of the most famous of this master!
I didn’t really think about it then. Maybe it was under restoration. There are paintings that museums do not give anywhere. Like the Mona Lisa. It can only be seen in the Louvre. Since 1974 (after an exhibition in Japan and Moscow) it has been restricted to travel abroad.
So, this painting “The Fall of Icarus” was not at the exhibition in Vienna. And it was only recently that I found out why.
The main secret of the Brueghel painting
It turns out that since the beginning of the 2000s, researchers have had great doubts that Brueghel himself painted this work!
Most likely, this is a copy of another master.
Yes, he clearly repeated the work of Bruegel thoroughly. The construction of space is too recognizable. The mountains are especially amazing. Because they don’t exist in the Netherlands. Maximum 300m hills.
But Bruegel was in the Alps, he was lucky to see them with his own eyes. In those times few people could afford to travel. But Bruegel did! And since then, struck by the mountains, he included them in almost all his paintings.
But the plowman has always embarrassed me. We see excessive “contouring”. I meen you can easily “cut” his figure out of space. Like it’s a collage.
More over, his legs are strangely turned out, and his back is too wide.
In my opinion, Bruegel was a more skilled artist in terms of drawing. And his figures fit better into space.
And a few words about the plot itself.
The plot of the painting “The Fall of Icarus”
If not for the name of the painting, we would hardly find legs sticking out of the water. As well as swirling feathers after the fall of Icarus.
It is believed that Bruegel beat with the help of this ancient Greek story the Dutch saying “No plow will stop until someone dies.”
And now Icarus dies, and the plow really does not stop. The plowman continues his work. But he wasn’t the only one who didn’t notice the unfortunate.
We see a ship sails near Icarus. But it keeps course in the opposite direction. None of the team noticed the tragedy.
The shepherd looks somewhere up, in the other direction. He doesn’t even notice what is more important to him. His sheep came to the edge of the abyss. And they are about to fall into the sea.
And the most interesting – not only one Icarus died!
Another unfortunate in the painting
In the bushes, just behind the plowed field, you can see the body of a man.
This is how the artist decided, for fidelity, to place the deceased person closer to the plowman. Yes, the plow will not stop even if someone nearby dies. Human life meant, apparently, not very much in the 16th century …
Where, then, is the original Bruegel? No one knows. Maybe one day it will be found in some old attic.
I have an article about Bruegel’s paintings. While left there a story about the “Fall of Icarus.” In the same article, you will find out why Brueghel’s heroes carry steam in baskets, and why devils are tied to pillows:
Read an article about Bruegel’s paintings
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