DÜRER, Albrecht
(b. 1471, Nürnberg, d. 1528, Nürnberg)

Adam and Eve

Oil on panel, 209 x 81 cm (each panel)
Museo del Prado, Madrid

The subject of Adam and Eve offered Dürer the opportunity to depict the ideal human figure. Painted in Nuremberg soon after his return from Venice, the panels were influenced by Italian art. Dürer's colouring is muted, and he models the bodies with the help of light and shadow, making the figures emerge from the dark background. Adam and Eve are noticeably slimmer than in his engraving of three years earlier.

Dürer's Adam and Eve represent the earliest known life-size nudes in Northern art. Eve, whose skin is whiter than Adam's, is next to the Tree of Knowledge, standing in a curious position with one foot behind the other. Her right hand rests on a bough and with her left hand she accepts the ripe apple offered by the coiled serpent. On a tablet is the inscription: `Albrecht Dürer, Upper German, made this 1507 years after the Virgin's offspring.' Adam inclines his head towards Eve and stretches out the fingers of his right hand on the other side, creating a sense of balance.