Herbert James Draper

The Lament for Icarus -1898

Art Collection #1

Herbert James Draper The Lament for Icarus -1898

Icarus and his father Daedalus (an engineer) were imprisoned in a tower by King Minos of Crete. Daedalus fashioned wings for them both out of wax and feathers so that they could escape the island. Before making their journey, Daedalus warned his son not to fly too low so as not to wet and weigh down the wings with seawater, nor to fly too high so that the heat from the sun would melt the wax. Upon flight Icarus felt himself to be just like the gods and made the fatal mistake of flying too high, whereupon the wax melted and he fell to his death. The story is a lesson on hubris.

Pre-Raphaelite painter Draper gives us Icarus after the fall, surrounded by lamenting sea nymphs. Icarus is extremely tanned, owing to his temporary proximity to the sun. Icarus’ plumage is magnificent, although strangely still intact.

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