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Hendrik Goltzius 1558-1617
Engraving, 1588, after Cornelis Cornelisz. van Haarlem 1562-1638
Given by the Friends of the Fitzwilliam Museum 1990
From a series known as The disgracers, depicting four figures from classical mythology who fell to their deaths for arrogantly behaving like gods. One other of the plates is also set against a light-filled background, but the other two have dark backgrounds filled with billowing smoke. Icarus, open-mouthed in despair, shields his eyes from the sun whose beating rays have melted the wax and feathers from his back. In the distance, his father, Daedalus, watches on helplessly, and the Latin inscription around the outside of the print warns of the dangers of exceeding limits. The spectacular swelling and tapering engraved lines, which evoke the taut, tensed muscles of the tumbling figure, are the hallmark of the influential Mannerist engraving style created by Goltzius and his workshop in the years 1585-89.