Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Request to view at the Prints & Drawings Study Room, level D , Case EL, Shelf 82, Box A

Adam and Eve

Print
1504 (engraved)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

'Durer made a large number of preparatory drawings which document the particular care with which he planned the design of this print. It also represents the culmination of his study of a system of human proportion seen in his slightly earlier drawings.' ('Albrecht Durer and his Legacy'; Giulia Bartram, British Museum Press, 2002).

Adam and Eve stand in pale contrast to the dark, and clearly northern, forest behind them; Eve is taking the fruit offered to her by the serpent which Adam stretches out his arm to receive in turn. The details of the figures and foliage are exquisitely depicted in swirling lines, cross-hatching and stipple engraving. Both Adam and Eve have delicately depicted curling hair and they stand almost mirroring each other in their classical poses, Adam holding a branch of the Tree of Life and Eve the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. This fine print displays the artist's virtuoso mastery of the engraving technique.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Engraving on paper
Brief Description
'Adam and Eve', engraving, designed and engraved by Albrecht Dürer, Nuremberg, 1504
Physical Description
An engraving depicting the moment before the Fall. Adam and Eve stand side by side with their faces turned towards each other in profile. Eve holds the apple behind her back and the crowned serpent, coiled around a tree, takes another fruit from her hand. Adam is holding a branch of mountain ash, symbolising the Tree of Life. A parrot is perched in the branch and a tablet bearing Dürer's inscription hangs from it. A forest forms the background with a craggy peak and mountain goat visible in the top right hand corner. There is a mouse and a cat (a symbol of choleric temperament) by Adam and Eve's feet. A rabbit (a symbol of sanguine temperament), an elk (a symbol of melancholic temperament) and a bull (a symbol of phlegmatic temperament) are positioned in the forest. The iconography relating to the theory of the temperaments/humours is a reference to the philosophy that Man contained a perfect balance of the four humours before the Fall. After the Fall the nature of each human was thought to be corrupted by the dominance of one or another of the humours.
Dimensions
  • Height: 9.875in (cut to) (Note: taken from departmental notes)
  • Width: 7.6875in (cut to) (Note: taken from departmental notes)
Marks and Inscriptions
Lettered 'Albert[us]Durer Noricus faciebat AD (Durer's monogram) 1504' (The inscription is depicted within the design on a tablet hung from a tree)
Credit line
Bequeathed by Miss Alice G.E. Carthew
Object history
This print bears the collector's mark of Cav. G.C. Rossi (second half of 19th century).
Subjects depicted
Literary ReferenceThe Bible
Summary
'Durer made a large number of preparatory drawings which document the particular care with which he planned the design of this print. It also represents the culmination of his study of a system of human proportion seen in his slightly earlier drawings.' ('Albrecht Durer and his Legacy'; Giulia Bartram, British Museum Press, 2002).



Adam and Eve stand in pale contrast to the dark, and clearly northern, forest behind them; Eve is taking the fruit offered to her by the serpent which Adam stretches out his arm to receive in turn. The details of the figures and foliage are exquisitely depicted in swirling lines, cross-hatching and stipple engraving. Both Adam and Eve have delicately depicted curling hair and they stand almost mirroring each other in their classical poses, Adam holding a branch of the Tree of Life and Eve the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. This fine print displays the artist's virtuoso mastery of the engraving technique.
Associated Object
E.4651-1910 (Version)
Bibliographic References
  • Bartsch, Adam, Le Peintre-Graveur. Vienna, 1803-1821. No.1
  • Dodgson, Campbell, The Masters of Engraving and Etching: Albrecht Dürer. London, 1926. No.39 (4th state)
  • Meder, Joseph. Dürer-Katalog: Ein Handbuch über Albrecht Dürers Stiche, Radierungen, Holzschnitte, deren Zustände, Ausgaben und Wasserzeichen. Vienna, 1932. No. 1 (2nd state)
  • Panofsky, Erwin. The Life and Art of Albrecht Dürer. Volume II, Princeton, 1943. No.108
Other Number
B.1 - Le Peintre-Graveur
Collection
Accession Number
E.581-1940

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record createdOctober 29, 2007
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