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Adam and Eve Eating the Fruit (The Fall) (from a series of 6 plates)

16th Century
3 7/16 in. x 2 1/2 in. (8.73 cm x 6.35 cm)

Heinrich Aldegrever, German, (1502–ca. 1561)

Object Type: Works on Paper
Creation Place: Europe, Germany
Medium and Support: Engraving on paper
Credit Line: Gift of Dr. William Fitzhugh, Jr.
Accession Number: 1955.53.b
Not only is the story of Adam and Eve familiar, so is the imagery we find in this small copper plate engraving. The couple stands with their arms over each other’s shoulders; both direct their attention to the apple the serpent places in Adam’s hand. Adam inclines his head, looking melancholy and contemplative, in contrast to the direct gaze of Eve, who holds her own apple, a bite missing. Unlike many iterations of the subject, she does not cover her body in shame for her sin. Indeed, both figures are nude bodies rendered with great attention to physical and technical beauty. Adam’s athletic, well-muscled form and Eve’s high small breasts and flowing hair show Italian and Classical influences along side the more traditionally Northern conventions of elegant elongation and Eve’s protruding stomach. Dense crosshatching forms a dark background beneath the foliage. Several sections with distinct lines, alternating in direction and between hatching and cross-hatching, are layered just above the lion’s head to suggest trees or perhaps a rock cliff, which frame the space the figures occupy, thus foreshadowing the impending expulsion from Eden.

The signature plaque in the top right hand corner shows the unmistakable influence on Aldegrever of another work in the exhibition, Albrecht Dürer’s The Fall. Not only was the inclusion of a signature plaque directly copied from Dürer, but the size and placement of the “A” further evidences copying. The inclusion of the lion and the double coil of the snake’s body around the tree are among several symbolic elements clearly lifted from Dürer, while the rich range of tone from light to dark and Italianate figures placed against a dark background show Dürer’s techniques also guided the production of this work.

--Keegan Amit, December 2013

Exhibition List
This object was included in the following exhibitions:

  • Sheet Dimensions: 3 7/16 x 2 1/2 in. (8.73 x 6.35 cm)
  • Mat Dimensions: 20 in. x 16 in. (50.8 cm x 40.64 cm)

Bibliography List
This object has the following bibliographic references:

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