It is not clear why Durer painted these two panels, as there is no evidence of their having been a commission. Everything points to the subject of Adam and Eve serving the artist’s own purposes, as he was interested in making a study of human anatomy and discovering its perfect proportions, based on Classical art. The painter’s fine draughtsmanship can be seen in these figures of Adam and Eve, who are depicted as Germanic figures.
The bodies are perfectly proportioned. Adam stands on a small area of ground, with his body slightly tilted to one side, while his face expresses surprise at Eve’s beauty. Her figure is very feminine, with gently sloping shoulders, and she looks as if she is about to begin a dance step. The two works bear Albert Durer’s hallmark signature, a capital letter A that incorporates the letter D. If you look carefully, you can see that on the Eve panel, this signature appears on a sign hanging from the branch of the apple tree. In both panels, the dark background helps the figures to stand out.
In these pictures, Durer avoided any hint of immodesty that might get him into trouble with the Church, and the subjects’ genitals are hidden behind apple leaves. One unusual detail can be seen in the apple, which appears twice: it is offered to Eve by the serpent, in one panel, and already in Adam’s hand, in the other.
(c) (R) 2013, MUSMon com S.L.
Text (a) Catalina Serrano Romero
English translation (a) Thisbe Burns
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