Collection Online

Adam and Eve

25.0 × 19.3 cm (image and sheet)
Catalogue/s Raisonné
Bartsch 1
4th of 5 states
incised (in image) u.l.: ALBERT9 / DVRER / NORICVS / FACIEBAT / AD (monogram) 1504
Accession Number
International Prints / International Prints and Drawings
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Felton Bequest, 1956
This digital record has been made available on NGV Collection Online through the generous support of the Joe White Bequest
Gallery location
Not on display

In many ways, this print is the culmination of Dürer’s exploration of classical ideals in human proportion. The figure of Adam is based on the classical sculpture of Apollo Belvedere and Eve on the Medici Venus. The result is his most idealised rendering of the human form. The engraving depicts the moment of equilibrium that precedes the expulsion from Paradise. The emblematic animals represent the medieval doctrine of the four temperaments (or humours) that were said to govern humanity after The Fall: the rabbit (sanguine), the bull (phlegmatic), the cat (choleric) and the elk (melancholic). The juxtaposed cat and mouse suggest the outburst of antagonism that will follow Adam and Eve’s banishment. The parrot, which was used to represent wisdom and benevolence, also symbolised the Virgin birth, while the goat in the right distance was recognised as a symbol of unbelieving. Adam and Eve is the only print that Dürer signed and dated in full, proclaiming his place of residence on the prominently displayed sign.