Adam

Adam
Artist:
Lucas Cranach the Elder (German, 1472-1553)
Date:
c. 1530
Medium:
Oil on panel (one of a pair) 
Dimensions:
75 x 27-1/2 in. (190.5 x 69.9 cm) 
Credit Line:
Norton Simon Art Foundation 
Accession Number:
M.1971.1.P 
Copyright:
© Norton Simon Art Foundation 
On View
Description

The son of a painter, Cranach was born in the town of Kronach in Franconia. In 1504, Frederick the Wise of Saxony called him to Wittenberg, where he became Court Painter. Cranach received his noble patron's coat of arms in 1508. This emblem, a winged serpent bearing a ring in its mouth, can be seen on the trunk of the tree beside Adam.

Cranach's treatment of forms and space is rather abstract, even though our initial impression may focus on their apparent naturalism. The highly linear, ornamental manner, and corresponding emotional detachment, are consistent with the Mannerist aesthetic of the sixteenth century. This secular treatment of an Old Testament subject was meant for pleasure rather than instruction. "Adam" and "Eve" (M.1991.1.P) were probably painted for a member of the court of the Elector and intended to hang in domestic surroundings.

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