(b. 1475, Caprese, d. 1564, Roma)

Creation of Eve

Fresco, 170 x 260 cm
Cappella Sistina, Vatican

In response to the gesture and intense gaze of the Creator, Eve appears to rise from the rocks behind Adam rather than from his body, extending her joint hands. The bodies of the couple appear to be those of adolescents, in contrast to those depicted in the scene of the Fall and Expulsion. The figure of the Lord, wrapped in a voluminous violet mantle that only allows a glimpse of the red tunic he wears in the other scenes of the Creation, draws on an iconographic tradition dating back to Giotto and Masaccio, from which it is differentiated, however, by the blond hair and beard framing the face.

The Creation of Woman is a design cast in simple, powerful form that contains a certain demonic element. The God and Demiurge, as conceived in the earlier medieval tradition, fills the space between heaven and earth as if about to erupt out of it, lifting his arms with an incantatory gesture and a supernatural air. More is indicated here than mere physical creation: it is the conception of the female mirror-image drawn forth from the sleeping Adam, who is fettered to a stunted tree shaped like the Staurus, the Egyptian cross. Is he the archetypal son destined to become the Mediator and endure the Passion? The composition forms a right-angled triangle with Adam as the horizontal and God the Father the vertical element, and Eve, in an attitude of adoration, striving towards the hand of God as a diagonal hypotenuse. Theirs is a harmonious Pythagorean unity of spirits prior to their separation. This astounding fresco dominating the centre of the entire vault links Ezekiel and the Sibyl of Cumae, thus underlining the importance of the grand design of the law of polarity!