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Prints and Drawings
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Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
PrevNext2 of 2
Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
Artist: Albrecht Dürer, German, 1471–1528

Adam and Eve

1504

Engraving

24.4 × 19.3 cm (9 5/8 × 7 5/8 in.)
Fritz Achelis Memorial Collection, Gift of Frederic George Achelis, B.A. 1907; reacquired in 1972 with the Henry J. Heinz II, B.A. 1931, Fund; Everett V. Meeks, B.A. 1901, Fund; and Stephen Carlton Clark, B.A. 1903, Fund
1925.29
By 1504 the great German printmaker Dürer was a master of engraving, and this rich, dense image of the first man and woman renders human and snake skin, animal fur, and tree bark and leaves distinctively. It also manifests Dürer’s fascination with ideal form. The figures are in nearly symmetrical poses, and that of Adam is reminiscent of the Hellenistic Apollo Belvedere, excavated in Italy late in the fifteenth century, of which Dürer must have seen a drawing. The engraving is meant to show Adam and Eve not only physically perfect but also ideally balanced psychologically. Four of the animals represent the four temperaments–the cat is choleric, the rabbit sanguine, the ox phlegmatic, and the elk melancholic–which were believed to be in perfect equilibrium before the Fall.
Geography: 
Made in Germany
Culture: 
German
Period: 
16th century
Classification: 
Works on Paper - Prints
Provenance: 

B. Naunyn (L.2814); R. Scholtz (L.2241)

Bibliography: 

Susan B. Matheson, Art for Yale: A History of the Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2001), 64, 67, fig. 54.

Friedrich Wilhelm Hollstein, German Engravings, Etchings, and Woodcuts, 1400–1700, 78 (Amsterdam: Menno Hertzberger, 1954–2010), vol. 7, p. 5, cat. 1.

James Prosek and Edith Devaney, James Prosek: Art, Artifact, Artifice, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2020), 21, 145, pl. 3.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.