The Landscape with the Fall of Icarus painting is believed to have been completed around the 1560s and there still remains some question marks over whether Pieter Bruegel the Elder was in fact the original artist but no other painters have ever been linked to it. The classic work can now found on display in the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium and is held within their permanent collection, being one of the museum's major attractions.
This website covers the Fall of Icarus in detail and includes images of the painting as well as good information on the life of the painter. Pieter Bruegel the Elder was responsible for the painting discussed but his son, the younger, also had an impressive career too and both are certainly worth studying.
Fall of Icarus is the abbreviated name of this classic painting and features a stylish scene in which a large character makes his way across the foreground of the painting, with an elaborate landscape scene sitting behind him that contains a traditional harbour and sunlight glowing from the back. It is unusual for an artist of this period to feature characters in such a large size and within the foreground of the painting, with Pieter Bruegel himself normally prefering smaller characters in larger numbers.
There has long been great discussion over the Landscape with the Fall of Icarus painting because it does not fit consistently into the career of Pieter Bruegel the Elder for several different reasons. Firstly, the artist used tempera on canvas in all his other paintings where as this was created in oils as seen far more commonly now. The mythological topic around which this painting was based would also be the only time that Bruegel would have done this.
Landscape with the Fall of Icarus has a slightly inaccurate balance between the character in the foreground and the background ships with the sizes not entirely what you would expect from such a skilled artist. Many believe however that this was a deliberate ploy by the artist to strengthen the power of the focal points of the work, and artistic license is an accepted element to many successful oil paintings right across art history.
Many look in detail at the careers of the Bruegel artists and there are certainly many other paintings besides Fall of Icarus which are well worth checking out. Bruegel the Elder was certainly the most talented artist to have come from this family and other notable works included Hunters in the Snow, sometimes referred to as Return of the Hunters. This classic painting covers another broad landscape at winter time, with Bruegel's small characters returning from a small morning hunting expedition.
Fall of Icarus by Bruegel was a painting which was subjected to intensive scrutiny by art academics who wanted to prove who was the original creator of this painting. The work was carried out in 1996 and conclusions were drawn that it was unlikely to have been from Pieter Bruegel's own hand though with no other artist being linked to it, Fall of Icarus will probably still remain within his portfolio for years to come.
The success of this painting dates back a very long way and even had a poem written in respect of it by William Carlos Williams. W. H. Auden's poem Musée des Beaux-Arts also comments on the work as well and that piece of literature was named after the museum in Belgium where it can now be seen on display, and has been for many years. This remains one of the most impressive art museums across the country and is well worth a visit, if only to see the original Fall of Icarus in person.
Bruegel paintings still have many question marks surrounding them because the artist was prominent so many centuries ago, with few records still available. Despite this, the reputation of Pieter the Elder and other members of his family remains very strong within the art world and there are many who love to buy reproductions of his original works even today, normally as framed or unframed giclee art prints, posters and stretched canvases. The links included in this website will take you to the Art.com Bruegel gallery where many reproduction copies are for sale.
Those who are big fans of the work of this artist can find more Bruegel paintings at thehistoryofart.org that features a huge gallery of work from right across his career which lasted for several generations and contributed a large amount to the rise of Dutch art and also opened significant doors for other younger members of his family whose careers followed on after his own had passed by.
List of Famous Pieter Bruegel the Elder Paintings
Please see below for a summarised list of the most popular Bruegel paintings which are searched for online, right across the world.
- Landscape with the Fall of Icarus
- Netherlandish Proverbs
- Children's Games
- Dulle Griet (Mad Meg)
- The Triumph of Death
- The Tower of Babel
- The "Little" Tower of Babel
- The Adoration of the Kings
- The Procession to Calvary
- The Harvesters
- The Hunters in the Snow
- The Hunters in the Snow: DETAIL OF soaring bird
- The Hunters in the Snow: detail of the fire in front of the inn
- Winter Landscape with a Bird Trap
- The painter and the buyer
- The Peasant Dance
- Peasant wedding
- Naval Battle in the Gulf of Naples
- The Fall of the Rebel Angels
- The "Little" Tower of Babel