QUERCIA, Jacopo della
(b. ca. 1367, Quercia Grossa, d. 1438, Siena)
Marble, 99 x 92 cm (with frame)
San Petronio, Bologna
This is a relief from the portal of San Petronio. Jacopo worked in Bologna sporadically until his death. He was commissioned to execute ten Genesis scenes for the pilasters by the doors. The scenes included the Temptation.
The heroic bodies of Adam and Eve look back to Nicola Pisano and influenced Michelangelo who, in fact, was drawn to them while in Bologna. The psychological insight manifested through the gestures is astounding. The serpent, with a female's head beguiles Eve to eat the fig (a complex symbol alluding to female genitalia) from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. With one hand Eve pushes the temptress away, but with the other selects a fig, thus revealing her ambivalence about sin, an attitude not usually depicted. Adam, whose musculature testifies to Jacopo's knowledge of anatomy, is atypically represented as an active participant in the Fall. He turns his head over his shoulder to ask Eve for the fig, holding out his right hand behind his body and reflexively moving the other to cover his genitals, prefiguring his fall.