Adam and Eve

By Museo Soumaya.Fundación Carlos Slim

Adán y Eva (1520) by Lucas Cranach, el viejoMuseo Soumaya.Fundación Carlos Slim

An esteemed artist and acclaimed collaborator in the creation of the new Protestant iconography, Lucas Cranach the Elder produced a painting that contributed to the Golden Age of the German religious image. The majority of his works reveal his understanding of Lutheran Protestantism. His devotion to the human body also led him to paint nudes, establishing his own physical representation of the female form.

The future of humanity is foreshadowed in the center of this magnificent panel, inspired by Albrecht Dürer's famous 1504 engraving, "Adam and Eve."

The eared serpent—a symbol of adversity in medieval bestiaries, as Evil listens to everything— is an impatient observer here.

Eve hides one of the forbidden fruit while she gives another to Adam. The art historian Michael Baxandall considered the position of her hand to be a clear invitation to become lost in the world of the profane.

The slender, rounded shape of the bodies, and the meticulous detail where the features stand out from the light cast on each figure, make this oil painting one of the most beautiful renderings of this subject matter.

The unnatural widening of Eve's toes represents the idea that desire enters through sensitive areas, and that is when sin is committed.

The different textures, such as the smoothness of the skin, or the fineness of the grass juxtaposed with the roughness of the tree, achieve a faithful depiction of nature based on observation, revealing the Master's humanist perspective.

The head of curls on Adam, the first man, finds continuity in Eve's seductive cascade of hair.

The characters' position together with the neutral background give the work a fantastic compositional balance. The blackness of the background has been interpreted as sin.

Inserted somewhere in Lucas Cranach's paintings is his coat of arms, granted to him by Frederick III, Elector of Saxony. It is a monogram of a winged dragon with a ring in its mouth. The shape of the dragon can be seen on the tree trunk separating the two biblical characters, along with the date of the work: 1520.

Credits: Story

Based on texts by Alfonso Miranda Márquez in "El Reino de las Formas: Grandes Maestros" (The Realm of Forms: Great Masters), in 2014, and the article "El Pintor de la Firma del Dragón" (The Painter with the Dragon Signature) by Uno TV, December 2016. Soumaya Museum, Carlos Slim Foundation.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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