Art Stories

Discover entertaining essays on a wide variety of artworks from our extensive collections in the section Art Stories.

A Flirt

Conrat Meit
Adam and Eve
Mechelen or Antwerp
c. 1530/35
KHM, inv. no. KK 9888/9889

Man and woman stand apart and yet are closely bound to one another: by glances and gestures, common history, and literally biblical bonds.

Eve holds an apple in each hand. Adam bears a third in his right hand. The pale red colouring of the fruit has been preserved, the two figures’ eyes were also once coloured. Tension is in the air. Has man’s fall already made its effect felt?

The wood statuettes can be moved individually. Their various owners once had the freedom and the pleasure of simulating alternating attraction and retreat as often as they fancied.

The sculptor, Conrat Meit (1470/85–1550/51), who was born in Worms and later moved to Flanders interprets the wonderful bodies of the two with anatomic precision: their bodies are trained but not standardised, with soft skin, full hair, delicate nipples, slender finger joints, and revealing corners of the mouth.

In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were oblivious to their nakedness. They did not yet perceive their vulnerability, awareness of self was not invented, and a clever game of attraction and retreat had no meaning.

Then came the fall and expulsion from paradise; that fertile drama revolving around shame, love, and desire entered mankind’s life.

written by Cäcilia Bischoff, translated by Joshua Stein on 16.10.2018 in #The Face of Europe
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