The Flight of Icarus

Jacob Peter Gowy's The Flight of Icarus (1635–1637)

The Flight of Icarus painting by 17th century Flemish Baroque painter Jacob Peter Gowy, 1635-1637. The painting shows Icarus, a character in Greek mythology, plummeting into the sea since the wax holding his wings got melted by the sun. Also depicted in the painting is the famed craftsman Daedalus, Icarus’ father.

In Greek mythology, Icarus was the son of the skilled craftsman Daedalus. The story of Icarus is often associated with the tale of the labyrinth and the Minotaur. Daedalus, being imprisoned by King Minos of Crete, devised a plan to escape with his son.

Read More: Theseus and the Minotaur in Greek Mythology

To flee the island, Daedalus constructed wings made of feathers and wax. He taught Icarus how to use them, warning him not to fly too high, as the heat of the sun would melt the wax, nor too low, as the moisture of the sea would dampen the feathers.

Excited by the ability to fly, Icarus disregarded his father’s warning and soared too close to the sun. The wax holding his wings together melted, causing the feathers to fall apart. Icarus plummeted into the sea and drowned, forever becoming a cautionary tale about the perils of hubris and disobedience.