The mythological story of Daedalus and Icarus has long been a popular source of inspiration for artists. According to the legend, Daedalus was a famous inventor and master builder. And it was his ability as a clever craftsman that brought Daedalus to the attention of King Minos. The king of Crete asked Daedalus to design and construct a vast labyrinth - a maze of twisting corridors and complicated passages - in which the monster known as the Minotaur could be hidden. In some versions of the story, King Minos then imprisoned Daedalus and his young son Icarus in the labyrinth, perhaps as punishment, or maybe simply to ensure that the inventor would not reveal the secret of his labyrinthine creation.
Daedalus did not accept his imprisonment passively. Instead, he devised a plan to escape from Crete. The clever man designed wings made from feathers bound together with wax, which he planned on using to fly from the island. When the wings were finished, Daedalus and Icarus could soar into the sky like birds - but before their journey began, Daedalus warned his son to stay in the middle path, avoiding the sun and the sea. However, Icarus, thrilled with the power of flight, quickly forgot his father's warnings, and as a result the boy perished because he flew too near the sun (the heat of the sun melted the wax that held his wings together).
In this beautiful painting, Lord Leighton has captured a moment from the myth. The artist has depicted the scene in which Daedalus warns his impetuous son of the perils they face during their flight. Icarus is as handsome as any idealized Greek statue, draperies and wings sweeping a dynamic diagonal across the painting. In contrast, Daedalus appears as a wrinkled old man with skin deeply bronzed by the sun.
The Art of Lord Leighton
In this beautiful book, author Christopher Newall examines the life and works of eminent Victorian artist Frederic Leighton. The chapters deal with Leighton's evolution as a painter, from his early phase as "The Outsider", to success as "The President of the Royal Academy". And there are plenty of gorgeous color images to complement the text.
Christopher Wood's elegant and informative book features a comprehensive "who's who" of Victorian artists, from Pre-Raphaelite masters such as Dante Gabriel Rossetti, to what Wood terms the Olympian Dreamers - including Lawrence Alma-Tadema, G.F. Watts, and Albert Moore. Highly recommended for anyone who appreciates Victorian art.