In "Musee des Beaux Arts" by W. H. Auden, who are the Old Masters referred to in line 2?

In “Musee des Beaux Arts” by W. H. Auden, the Old Masters referred to in line 2 are the greatest Western painters from the Renaissance to the early nineteenth century. It is their works that adorn the eponymous museum and countless other museums and galleries throughout Europe and the United States.

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In “Musee des Beaux Arts,” Auden presents the Old Masters, those painters from the Renaissance to the early Romantic period generally regarded as the best, as providing us with an elevated insight into the human condition. In particular, they understand suffering, an essential part of that condition.

Their insights are contrasted sharply with the attitude of most people as they go about their ordinary, everyday lives. This gap between the heightened perception of the artist and the more mundane understanding of lesser mortals is illustrated in Brueghel’s painting The Fall of Icarus, in which a plowman is depicted as seemingly oblivious to the tragedy of Icarus falling from the sky after having flown too close to the sun.

Yet Old Masters like Brueghel understood suffering very well, as they demonstrate in their many remarkable paintings, which adorn the walls of numerous galleries and museums throughout the world. And if we wish to arrive at a deeper understanding of suffering, then we...

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