(b. ca. 1515, Bassano, d. 1592, Bassano)

Garden of Eden

Oil on canvas, 77 x 109 cm
Galleria Doria Pamphilj, Rome

The Arcadian scene is dominated by the bright sky of early morning above the distant mountains, the lush vegetation, the clearings amidst the woods, verdant bushes, trees, plants, flowers, and farmyard animals: a goat, a rooster, a rabbit, lambs, and many birds above. There is even a peacock in the predominant position, turned toward the future, to the right, which undoubtedly alludes to the immortality of the first human beings before original sin, and a lizard (not a symbol of vanitas as has recently been proposed), lying in the traditional manner, with its head to the east - the sun is rising in that direction above the far-off Monte Grappa in the background. The presence of the human beings appears to be a secondary element, whose emblematic significance is left to our imagination. Nothing concrete, no attribute reveals the identity of this couple half-concealed among the trees and the rolling ground. The man, in a prominent position, bends over the woman, perhaps to receive the fateful request.

The delicate poetry of this "genre" - painting, whose evolution was greatly influenced by the works that Jacopo produced in the early 1570 - which is the presumed date of this painting -, was later spread widely by his studio. It is not impossible that his son Francesco may have played a part in the execution of the landscape of this painting, for which Jacopo had made a preparatory drawing in sanguine, now in Berlin, of the two figures.