The use of terracotta in sculpture was practically forgotten since Machado de Castro in the 18th century. With Canto da Maya this material is rehabilitated and exploited in its purity, reminiscent of the Greek statuary of the archaic period.
The polychrome, uncommon in the sculpture of the time, reinforces this aspect. The modeling of the bodies is uniform and exhibits in the hair and folds of the drapery a characteristically art deco scheme. A sensual ripple runs through the ecstatic bodies that, facing each other, turn away from the viewer by revealing the profiles or the back. This aspect confers on the inner space an intimate, almost tactile dimension in the configuration of the position of the hands of the figures, and focuses attention on the element of greater symbolic pregnancies constituted by the fruit offered and that updates the myth of original sin presupposed in the conspicuous sensualism of composition. This metaphorizes the empty space between both figures in the form of flame.
In the intensity of the treatment of this empty space and its relation with the sculpture, lies a profoundly modern device that transcends the decorative suggestions, well integrated, yet more characteristic of a cosmopolitan taste of the time. Within the national sculptural panorama, cut off from Modernism, this piece appears as the most significant proposal. Made in 1929 to integrate a fountain of the architect Paul Andrieu, it appeared in the Salon d'Automne of Paris of the same year and was acquired by the French State. Both this version and another identical one, that is in the Museum Carlos Machado, in Ponta Delgada, were realized later.


  • Title: Adam and Eve
  • Creator: Ernesto Canto da Maya
  • Date Created: 1929
  • Physical Dimensions: E: 159 cm x 54 cm x 43 cm; A: 167 cm x 57 cm x 46 cm.
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Multi-colored terracotta

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