Sir Alfred Gilbert
Icarus 1882–4

Artwork details

Sir Alfred Gilbert 1854–1934
Date 1882–4
Medium Bronze
Dimensions Object: 495 x 210 x 159 mm
Acquisition Bequeathed by Frederick Harrison 1936
On display at Tate Britain
Room: 1840

Display caption

Icarus and his father Daedulus escaped from prison from the Greek island of Crete by using pairs of wings which they made from feathers and wax. Icarus, however, flew too near to the sun, the wax melted and he fell into the sea and drowned. Gilbert stated that he chose the theme because, ‘It flashed across me that I was very ambitious: why not Icarus with his desire for flight?’ The subject represented the risk of his own ambition. The vibrant surface and themes of death and the recklessness of youth, lend Gilbert’s nude a dimension of sensual eroticism.

February 2010

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