The Fall of Icarus by Pieter Bruegel Essay

The Fall of Icarus by Pieter Bruegel Essay

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The Fall of Icarus by the artist Pieter Bruegel depicts change that was occurring from the Medieval period to the Renaissance. Significance can be found within the word renaissance as it means ‘rebirth’. More importantly the rebirth that was occurring during that era was one where people were looking back to the classical past for inspiration for art pieces. The most elite artist but not people who were peasants as their daily life differed did this. Bruegel offers a perspective in his piece, Fall of Icarus representation of the new age of exploration which serves as an allusion to man’s potential is starkly contrasted with the depiction of Icarus that serves as an allegory for man’s limits, indicating the shift from a euro-centric universe.
This painting was an oil canvas landscape of the sun setting in the horizon of the ocean sea, while the ships were sailing throughout the body of water. The focus on humanism during this period is clearly portrayed by the presence of the plowman, shepherd, and fisherman performing their daily task. Lighter colors are used, which differ from the darker colors that were emphasized during the Dark Age or Medieval period. Shadows can be seen on the ground next to the plowman showing the increasing artistic methods that begin to be utilized. Overall Bruegel makes use of the two and three-dimensional techniques to demonstrate the messages he attempts to reveal about changes in life and thought through his work.
It is interesting that Bruegel contradicts the idea of exploration through the Greek mythology of Icarus alongside daily life. Icarus was attempting to defy human abilities as the story reveals his attempts to fly beyond his capabilities, result in his plunge into the dark green sea. Depi...


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...ept for the audience. This may coincide with European exploration and the desire to expand through military power by the state. During the time period violence was prevalent, thus desensitizing people to the death of man. Overall relating to the ambition and ability of man as well as the limit of man.



Works Cited

Dickens, A. G. The Age of Humanism and Reformation. Eaglewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Pentice-Hall, Inc. , 1972.
Foote, Timothy. The World of Bruegel. New York: Time Life Books , 1968.
Johnson, Geraldine A. Renaissance Art, A Very Short Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.
Shiraev, Eric B., and Vladislav M. Zubok. International Relations. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.
Silver, Larry. Pieter Bruegel. New York: Abbeville Press Publishers, 2011.
Snyder, James. Northern Renaissance Art. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Incorporated , 1985.

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