Adam and Eve (1916/1917) by Gustav KlimtBelvedere
This painting is the only one in Klimt's oeuvre that includes biblical content. It shows Adam and Eve, a motif from the biblical creation story. Klimt avoids portraying any particular episode, such as the Fall of Man.
Klimt was instead interested in creating a timeless incarnation of Eve as the mother of life. His depiction of a full-bodied female figure with broad hips has a somewhat archaic look, reminiscent of prehistoric idols or tribal artifacts.
Eve's feet are covered by colorful anemone, a symbol of fertility. Behind her is a leopard hide, which may actually be linked to the maenads as known from Greek mythology. It is also symbolic of wild and untamed erotic love.
Through great effort and dedication, Klimt created the colorful figure of the naked female body, whose soft skin tones are mixed with light blues and yellows. The bright body of Eve stands out significantly from the bronzed body of Adam, who frames Eve like a protective sheet.
The unfinished picture is one of the last pieces Klimt worked on before his unexpected passing. Sonja Knips, who was a friend of Klimt and of whom he had created a famous portrait, acquired the painting from the artist's estate.
Text: Österreichische Galerie Belvedere / Franz Smola
© Österreichische Galerie Belvedere