Icarus sketches

Whilst in the Romantics room of the Bristol Museum and ArtGallery, I spotted this small yet enchanting sculpture in the corner. I immediately took photos from different angles, as I knew I wanted to use it as a model. Angles here are really taken advantage of, manipulated so that from every perspective the characters are explored and their story is told.

Daedalus Equipping Icarus, Francis Derwent Wood (1895)

Francis Derwent Wood’s Daedalus Equipping Icarus (1895) captures one moment in the famous Greek myth. It is not the crux of the story, where Icarus flies too close to the sun, and it does not even show when the pair leave the ground. This sculpture explores the events beforehand, the anticipation and preparation for what is about to come. Only the viewer knows the end that awaits them. Icarus is the focus here, even though Daedalus is the brains behind the operation.

The sculpture is clearly inspired not only by ancient mythology but by classical art. The skill behind capturing the anatomy is important here, Icarus’ front displayed simultaneously with Daedalus’ back, showing the sculptor has a mastery of both. From  other angles, the huge feathers of the wings obscure the bodies of the men, an imposing feature which shows the wings will be their literal downfall.

In a room where other pieces show fantastical fairy tales and romantic stories, this sculpture displays a darker theme. From a distance, the beauty of the feathers and the men blend in with the beauty of the other muses and the flowery nature seen in their worlds. It relies on the audience understanding the rest of the plot to experience the impending doom.

The Room: British and European Art (The Age of Enlightenment and the Birth of Romanticism)

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