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Durer etching

Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528)
Adam and Eve, 1504, Engraving
Dated on plate, 1504.
10 7/16 x 8 1/4 inches (265 x 209 mm)
Purchased as the gift of Eugene V. Thaw, S. Parker Gilbert, Rodney B. Berens, Mrs. Oscar de la Renta, Elaine Rosenberg, T. Kimball Brooker, George L. K. Frelinghuysen, and on the Ryskamp Fund, the Edwin H. Herzog Fund, and the Lois and Walter C. Baker Fund; 2006.80
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With this print, Dürer catapulted to international prominence and became the foremost printmaker in Europe. Having been introduced to the canon of proportions—a mathematical system designed to depict the ideal human body—by Jacopo de' Barbari, an Italian artist visiting Nuremberg in 1500, Dürer used the technique to create Adam and Eve. He paired their flawless physiques with an emphasis on perfect temperament. Erwin Panofsky argued that the animals embody the balance of bodily fluids believed to determine personality, called humors, and were associated with particular traits, for example, elk (melancholy), rabbit (sensuality), cat (cruelty), and ox (sluggishness). Praising Dürer's couple, contemporary poet Caspar Velius wrote, "When the Angel saw them, he said with amazement: 'You were not yet this beautiful when I drove you out of Paradise.'"

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The programs of The Morgan Library & Museum are made possible with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Background images: Photography by Todd Eberle unless otherwise noted. © 2006 Todd Eberle.