Adam and Eve, Albrecht Dürer


Albrecht Dürer’s search for  perfection in the representation of the human form was reflected both in the engraving of 1504 and in the 1507 Oil on Table titled Adam and Eve. In the 1504 engraving Adam and Eve appear as 2 symmetrical shapes in the Garden of Eden, holding in their hands broken branches of the Trees of Life and Wisdom. They are accompanied by four animals representing the four temperaments of mankind which will be released after the loss of innocence of Adam and Eve.

In the Oil on Panel of the Prado Museum, an atmosphere of sensuality and sin imbues the protagonists. Eva seems to be aware of the serious offense she has committed. Her finger placed on an apple branch inclined towards Adam’s panel appears to encourage Adam to break the taboo and share sin. The hands of Adam express his hesitation but his parted lips and subtle movement toward Eva indicate that his resistance will be short-lived. It is to be noted that both Adam and Eve are represented in natural size. Also, in the engraving as well as in the oil on table, the two figures exhibit the navel, an intriguing “mistake” which Dürer shared with Titian, Rubens and Tintoretto, among many others.

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