Adam and Eve - Art and Literature

Art and Literature

Adam and Eve were used by early Renaissance artists as a theme to represent female and male nudes. Later, the nudity was objected to by more modest elements, and fig leaves were added to the older pictures and sculptures, covering their genitals. The choice of the fig was a result of Mediterranean traditions identifying the unnamed Tree of knowledge as a fig tree, and since fig leaves were actually mentioned in Genesis as being used to cover Adam and Eve's nudity.

Treating the concept of Adam and Eve as the historical truth introduces some logical dilemmas. One such dilemma is whether they should be depicted with navels (the Omphalos theory). Since they were created fully grown, and did not develop in a uterus, they would not have been connected to an umbilical cord as were all born humans. Paintings without navels looked unnatural and some artists obscure that area of their bodies, sometimes by depicting them covering up that area of their body with their hand or some other intervening object.

John Milton's Paradise Lost is a famous 17th-century epic poem written in blank verse which explores the story of Adam and Eve in great detail.

American painter Thomas Cole painted The Garden of Eden (1828), with lavish detail of the first couple living amid waterfalls, vivid plants, and attractive deer.

Mark Twain wrote humorous and satirical diaries of Adam and Eve.

  • Adam and Eve depicted in a mural in Abreha wa Atsbeha Church, Ethiopia.

  • Adam and Eve by Titian.

  • Adam and Eve by Lucas Cranach the Elder.

  • Adam and Eve by Albrecht Dürer.

  • Adam and Eve by Maarten van Heemskerck (Musée des Beaux-Arts de Strasbourg). Note the emphasis of the gender difference by the use of different skin colours.

  • Adam and Eve from a copy of the Falnama (Book of Omens) ascribed to Ja´far al-Sadiq, ca. 1550, Safavid dynasty, Iran.

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