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Mills College Centennial Exhibition

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Adam and Eve

17th Century
11 1/2 in. x 8 in. (29.21 cm x 20.32 cm)

Abraham Bloemaert, Dutch, (1566–1651)

Object Type: Works on Paper
Creation Place: Europe, The Netherlands
Medium and Support: Pen and ink wash on paper
Credit Line: Gift of Dr. William Fitzhugh, Jr.
Accession Number: 1951.17
Worked in pen and ink wash, the Dutch artist Abraham Bloemaert’s 1604 greyscale drawing Adam and Eve provides a rare glimpse of the original ancestors after the Fall in a scene that is essentially missing from the Bible. Bloemaert portrays Adam and Eve outside the Garden, in a verdant European landscape, working and raising their family, fulfilling the curse of labor without apparent suffering. Adam stands, loincloth-clad and sturdy, with a shovel, which he is using to turn earth—a reminder of the clay from which he was made. Just before him in the visual plane is a tree stump, evidence of the land he has cleared to create this echo of Eden. The toddlers Cain and Abel scramble about among vines, picking gourds and apparently happy, not yet the jealous brothers who will come to murderous blows in a similar clearing. Behind her family, Eve sits on the ground, a distaff propped in the earth and holding the wool she spins on a simple spindle. Further back in the scene, domesticated animals graze on a hillside and a shadowy group of figures is inside a shelter, apparently at a meal. By portraying Adam and Eve as a family, like many who would see this picture, Bloemaert brings the Bible closer to an audience of illiterate people; people who, if not agricultural laborers themselves, were likely generationally close to such laborers. Through these means, the ancient past becomes the present and the far off lands of the Bible become the local.

--Kristen Hanley Cardozo

Exhibition List
This object was included in the following exhibitions:

  • Sheet Dimensions: 11 1/2 in. x 8 in. (29.21 cm x 20.32 cm)
  • Mat Dimensions: 20 in. x 15 in. (50.8 cm x 38.1 cm)

Bibliography List
This object has the following bibliographic references:

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