Monday, September 20, 2010
If you're not familiar with it, the painting is Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, by Pieter Brueghel. I just discovered it recently and it really captured my imagination.
If you click on it, you'll be able to see the detail.
Go ahead. Click it. I'll wait.
Did you notice the legs in the lower right hand corner? Sticking up out of the water?
Those legs are Icarus, plunging to his death. You remember Icarus? He and his father, Daedalus, needed to escape from the island of Crete, so Daedalus built wings from wax and feathers, so they could fly away. But despite warning from his father, headstrong young Icarus flew too close to the sun, and his wings melted.
Now look at the rest of the painting. Everyone is going about his daily life, unaware of the boy's destruction.
The shepherd is looking up, like maybe he heard something, but it's clear Icarus will disappear beneath the surface without the shepherd ever seeing him.
Sometimes I think this blindness to surrounding tragedy is all that makes life bearable.