This wonderful late 16th-century depiction of Adam and Eve is a joy to behold and truly a piece of history. Here we see Adam being passed an apple by Eve who has already been tempted by the serpent. This consensual act ultimately leads to the pair’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden.
Stylistically, this beautiful old painting sits alongside many other works originating in Northern Europe during the 16th-century. It’s particularly interesting to compare it with the works of Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553) who produced over 50 versions of this subject. Cranach’s depictions cover various aspects of the biblical story and they’re much finer but there are plenty of similarities. Note the musculature, the form of the tree, and the background. All very reminiscent.
An unusual aspect is the serpent’s demonic face as generally the serpent is depicted as a snake (or occasionally a woman). We haven’t found many examples of a serpent with similar features and we believe that this is fairly uncommon. Another interesting element is the shape of the rocks behind the pair as they echo the posture of the figures.
The painting is housed within a 19th-century gilded frame.
Medium: Oil on canvas laid on wood Overall size: 30” x 27” / 77cm x 68cm Year of creation: c. 1590 Provenance: Denmark Condition: Over the years the painting has probably been restored several times and overpaint is visible. Under UV, it’s clear that the outlines have been enhanced along with various aspects of the figures and tree. This is not unusual given the age of the piece. There’s also craquelure throughout but the paint is stable. Overall, it’s in ready to hang condition.