Durer Adam and Eve



you juror is often referred to as the da Vinci of the north a true renaissance man who led the Northern Renaissance from his home in Nuremberg Germany his father was a goldsmith a trade that provided juror with a solid artistic base after apprentice in as a painter and woodcut artist Durer traveled through Europe and into Italy absorbing the spirit of the Italian Renaissance prolific original and ingenious drawer mastered multiple styles and techniques exhibiting equal skill with painting engraving edging wood cuts drypoint landscape portraits and nature studies Durer was unique among artists of his own era and has continued to inspire generations of artists since we cannot do his biography justice in just a few moments so instead we will move straight on to our print this print of Adam and Eve is a copper engraving that juror spent several years planning and executing the print was completed in 1504 engravings require a press and juror was the first artist to purchase a printing press for his workshop and engraving is drawn with a tool called the burn onto a copper plate the burn creates grooves for the ink next an inked brayer or roller is rolled over the plate settling the ink into the grooves lastly paper is wetted then run through a printing press the paper will sink into the grooves and absorb the ink the actual printing is an art form in itself and the skills of the printer make a difference in the quality of the finished print contrasted to making wood cuts artists found they had greater control with engravings and could create finer lines and more textured prints here we can see the texture of the trees the cat's fur Adams skin and Eve's hair with just lines Dror convincingly communicates a variety of textures copper engravings do have one major disadvantage the copper plate can be damaged in the printing press so the number of prints that can be made from a plate is limited the sturdier wood cut can create nearly unlimited prints but even with that engravings became the preferred method to illustrate books and were often highly valued as standalone works of art that could be framed and hung in home when we first view this print we probably assume that juris purpose was to create a print tell the story of Adam and Eve not exactly juris true purpose was to create an engraving that would show the world his mastery of Renaissance ideals elevate his status as an artist and bring him more prestigious commissions choosing to do this work as an engraving instead of a painting meant that the work could be reproduced and circulated throughout Europe as a testament to Jewish talent not that different from advertising today additionally once the work was done Durer could sell it over and over again to different collectors by doing another print run whenever there was a demand thereby creating a steady income with this engraving drewer communicated to the larger world what kind of an artist he was in one work he introduced himself to those around europe who could pay to hire him showcasing both his artistic abilities and his superior intellect by communicating the renaissance ideals that shaped his age one ideal drawer was enamored with was the classical concept of human proportion the true vyas was an ancient Roman architect who wrote out proportions in his treatises not just for buildings but also for human anatomy for instance he determined that to find the ideal height of a body one should measure the head then multiply by eight this was the person's ideal height as the Renaissance was all about reviving classical concepts Vitruvius his proportions became an obsession amongst Italian artists demonstrated by 'add Vinci's famous drying of the Vitruvian Man Durand roars travels in Italy he too fell under the spell cast by the revival of classical art drewer didn't just explore human proportions in this print he wrote a treatise II on the topic four books on human proportion were published after his death by his wife and the colleague Durer wrote and illustrated nearly every page with woodcut illustrations by the end of his life Drewe had moved away from the limited ideals of the truth and model that we see in the Adam and Eve print and instead devoted himself over his life to studying the human figure in all of its varieties finding beauty in diversity with extensive measurements and illustrations he related his discoveries on the proportions of figures who were tall short adult child fat and thin now philosophically the Renaissance while deeply Christian was embracing and being challenged by the ideas of humanism during the Middle Ages God was the undisputed center of life humanism by contrast began to move man into the center emphasizing man's importance and ability to act and think and to affect change on the world the tension that these two often contradictory worldviews created is reflected in the art that was produced during this time man's perspective became increasingly important and central to the focus of art a melding together humanism and Christianity was the ongoing challenge of Renaissance artists juror was friends with the humanists Erasmus and was heavily influenced by the humanist philosophy in jurors time using the classical models for his figures demonstrated his familiarity with humanist ideas this print is an attempt to bring together these two divergent thought patterns into a cohesive whole here we have the perfect figures of Adam and Eve according to the classical model presented this way to demonstrate first jurors mastery of the concept of proportions and perspective but also secondly the theological truth that Adam and Eve were perfect untainted by sin freshly created by God himself they are the last or only humans to have had perfect proportions and perfectly balanced personalities in the medieval understanding of the Adam and Eve story men and women are broken by the actions of Adam and all of the human race suffers when sin enters the world that is not just man's soul that is put at risk but all of creation is affected in the Garden of Eden everything was in perfect balance and existed in the state of harmony and beauty plants animals man all living in perfect peace when juror looked at the people around him he could see they don't measure up to the Vitruvian ideal or to the perfect harmony of the Garden of Eden the fall of man had distorted the perfection of the first people God created therefore it was the artists job to try to piece back together the distorted picture of humanity and reveal its beautiful potential juror believed the classical models he'd seen in Italy showed the way to reveal the beautiful potential of man and to bring his Adam and Eve to life Jura modeled his Adam after the Apollo Belvedere an ancient Roman statue believed to have been a copy of a lost bronze by the greek sculptor leo carries the statue was rediscovered in the late 15th century and caused a major stir many Renaissance artists were inspired and used this as their model in their own works drew saw and sketched the statute during his troubles in Italy similarly it is believed that Eve is modeled after the venus de milo one of the most famous sculptures of ancient greece discovered on the island of milos both adam and eve stand contrapposto meaning the weight of the body is primarily on one foot causing the hips to shift and the upper body to twist depending on the degree of the twist caused by the position a figure can appear relaxed or in motion ancient sculptors often use contrapposto to enliven their statues giving them a more natural lifelike appearance embracing classical aesthetics and thought and allowing these to inform his own work did not make juror inning less and northern artists his Adam and Eve might resemble statues of Greek antiquity and followed the proportions of the true be Asst but they stand in a German forest surrounded by the beasts of jurors homeland drew has chosen to capture the dramatic moment of decision for Adam and Eve still perfect and living in harmony with God in nature they are faced with a choice that will determine the fate of humankind according to the biblical narrative recorded in the book of Genesis Adam and Eve are walking in the garden when the serpent speaks to Eve and encourages her to eat the forbidden tree of knowledge so that she will be like God knowing good from evil in jurors interpretation at the scene she appears to be accepting the fruit from the serpent some suggest that the serpent in the print is actually taking a bite from the Apple as well granting himself Satan the knowledge of the tree although Eve is accepting the Apple with one hand we can see that she already holds another Apple behind her back it's an awkward hand position that is distinct and one that Jory uses again in another painting in the holler madonna and child drawer has painted the Christ child holding the Apple in the exact same manner frequently in Nativity art there is some sort of reference to the Garden of Eden which explains what Christ needed to come to the earth it's interesting that juror has used the same arm positioning in a work portraying the fall of humanity and then repeats it in a work that portrays the promise of man's Redemption we know from sketches the juror spent a great deal of time working out that arm positioning for Eve and tried out a variety of poses before settling on the one that he used the position while odd is also very memorable making it likely to be recognized by viewers of the Madonna and Child out of an evil place not in a garden but in a German forest reminiscent of a Grimm's fairy tale it is not unusual for artists to move the biblical scene to a local geographical area to make the story more immediate to a contemporary viewer using a German force also gave juror the opportunity to demonstrate his skills as a naturalist a devout naturalist Jewish spent a great deal of time recording an astoundingly accurate detailed plants insects and animals however the tree in the center of our print which is the tree of knowledge from the story in Genesis is a fig tree that is growing a branch of apples that branch is the one that the serpent signifying Satan has wrapped its body around as a holds out the Apple to Eve on the other side of the trunk of the tree of knowledge adam stands with his hand holding onto a mountain ash branch that trees signifying the tree of life following that branch we come to a sign and a parrot we're gonna save the parrot for a bit but let's look at that sign a little closer drew commonly signed his works with a monogram or what we might call a logo but in this print he uses his full name and the year the sign reads Albrecht Durer of Nuremberg written in Latin the sign contains an interesting contradiction druid displaying with pride his German heritage and yet choosing T is the language of the Italian Renaissance in many ways this sums up juror the man he was undeniably an artist of the north of the Northern Renaissance displaying an aesthetic and style quite distinct from his southern contemporaries in Italy at the same time he fully absorbed the lessons of the Italian Renaissance during his travels he met and chorus bonded with artisan Italy throughout his life allowing their work to inform his own while maintaining his own unique vision there a surprising number of animals in the print eight to be exact each with their own story well each with their own story but not everyone agrees on what the stories are we will begin with the smallest animal who is standing next to Adams foot a small mouse probably the first thing that we notice is that the mouse is disturbingly close to the cat although the cat appears uninterested for the moment that is because sin has not entered paradise and everything in the world is balanced in at peace soon that will change there are two main theories about the meaning of the mouse one is that a mouse is symbolic of man's weakness particularly his weakness when dealing with women Eve offered the Apple to Adam and although he knew God's law as well as Eve he took the Apple and he ate presumably because he couldn't resist Eve she was his weakness another possibility for the mouse and the one I find more compelling is that in the art of the north there's a tradition to paint a mouse as Satan and a mousetrap to indicate Christ will trap Satan when he dies on the cross in fact in northern Nativity art we sometimes find Joseph Jesus's earthly father making mousetraps as part of his carpentry business referencing the future work that Christ will accomplish as we leave the mouse and move up the tree of life we come again to the parrot sitting on the sign again there are several theories about why drewer included a parrot the first is that a parrot represents foolishness because it can only repeat what others say as Adam and Eve are about to make a very foolish choice with serious consequences that's why drew included a parrot alternatively some theorize that the parrot is included because a parrot is a truth teller a parrot repeats what is said exactly and without covering anything up or altering it artists have used the parrot to signify that they have painted the true nature of someone if this is the meaning of the parrot the Garden of Eden has been a place where the truth is always spoken but that is about to change and soon Adam and Eve will begin to lie and to evade to cover their sin from God still another theory is that the parrot represents the Virgin Mary the natural speaking of a parrot is reported to resemble the praying of the Rosary particularly the Ave Maria and so the bird came to be associated with Mary as Mary is often referred to as the second Eve because her obedience provided the solution for the actions of the first Eve a parrot is sometimes included in paintings of the fall and lastly tradition holds that a parrot was present when Adam and Eve took that fateful bite of Apple this little tidbi would have come from extra biblical stories but artists were known for scouring those extra stories to find symbols and images that would aid them in visually retelling complex stories and representing theological truths from the parrot we moved to the next for animals whose meanings are largely agreed upon the acts the cat the rabbit and the elk for nearly two thousand years the idea that there were four humors ruling the body dominated medicine and science Hippocrates who lived four hundred years before Christ is credited with developing the idea but there is evidence that the idea is even older essentially it was believed that there are four fluids within the body and that when they are in balance a person is healthy unfortunately the last humans to have had this balance were Adam and Eve when they ate the Apple part of the effect of sin was a disruption of the fluids of the body the belief was that each person had a humor or fluid that dominated affecting both their health and their temperament each humor was often associated with a specific animal and personality traits in our print the ox or Bowl is the phlegmatic humor connected to the bodily fluid of phlegm a phlegmatic person is introverted calm and easygoing they're good at explaining a problem and bring others to a compromise the rabbit is the symbol of the sanguine humor or the blood a person who exhibits the personality is extroverted enthusiastic social courageous this humour is also often associated with fertility which is why a rabbit was chosen to represent it the cat is the symbol of the choleric humour connected to yellow bile the personality of the choleric is extroverted ambitious goal-oriented and decisive lastly is the melancholic humor represented by the elk which is connected to black bile this is the humor most associated with the artists and juror believed that he was a melancholic personality which is characterized by being a deep thinker analytic and thoughtful they are also frequently anxious and depressed when these four humors and their corresponding personalities are balanced we have the picture of health in this print we have the four animals representing the humors peacefully coexisting calm and content this balance and peace is about be shattered in fact up in the distance we can see that the balance is quite close to the tipping point a mountain goat is balanced on a rocky crag bringing us to the next animal in our print the goat theories about the goats meaning or many and I'll just go through a few of them here two of the interpretations are incredibly close to one another they are that the goat represents the morality of the world in the first interpretation the goat is securely balanced on that craggy rock which if you've ever seen mountain goats it's fairly incredible how secure they are as they scamper around and in the second interpretation the goat is about to topple off the rocks when Adam takes a bite so were to look at that goat and feel that he's in a precarious position another read on the goat is that he represents the scapegoat from Jewish history according to Leviticus on the day of atonement lots are cast by the high priest and one goat is chosen to be a blood sacrifice and another goat is chosen to be ritually burdened with the sins of the nation and driven away into the desert the sacrifice goat removes the pollution of our sin the goat that is driven away removes the burden of our guilt and jurors day and in Christian thought Christ was the scapegoat for our sins and so placing a goat in a work about Adam and Eve is a way to remind the viewer that the actions that Adam is about to make are going to lead to the burden of sin on mankind and that Christ's coming will provide a solution to that guilt this brings us to the last animal in our print the snake probably the one animal we expect to see in a print of the story of Adam and Eve Geor has given us a rather unique take on the snake so let's look closer looking at the snake's head we see four nails oddly this isn't the only example of nails on a snake's head when a friend of jurors hieronymus whole shower married his marriage coat of arms included a snake with three nails embedded in its head this could be the source of inspiration for drew adding the nails to his print rather than three nails juror has put four into the Serpent's head the number of nails that were used to nail Christ to the cross according to the Genesis account after Adam and Eve ate the fruit and were confronted by God God placed a curse on the snake the curse included the fact that man would crush the Serpent's head this is generally understood to reference the fact that Christ dying on the cross for the sins of mankind defeated Satan and broke his control here we have a visual picture of four nails the number that held Christ of the Cross embedded in the head of the serpent a foreshadowing of the crucifixion again this visual representation while perhaps odd to us would have been understood by jurors northern audience all artists use symbols within their works to communicate their messages but in the north there was a particular passion for including all sorts of layered images and scare references for people to figure out jurors audience was prepared to look deeper and to contemplate each details meaning the other odd thing we should note about the snake is that its tail is nailed to the tree there are two primary reasons juror might include this in the image during this time there was a legend that traced the wood of Christ's cross back to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in essence the tree that Adam and Eve ate from is also the tree that was made into the cross that Christ was crucified on completing the cycle of humankind's journey from fall to redemption as the serpent representing Satan and all that is evil tempted Adam and Eve with the fruit from the tree it is fitting that Satan will also see his hold on humankind broken on that very tree additionally in the Old Testament we find the story of God judging the people of Israel for their sins with a plague of venomous snakes when they cried out for help the Lord told Moses to raise the image of a snake upon a pole and everyone who was bitten and looked at the snake would be healed in the New Testament Jesus references the story saying just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness so the Son of Man must be lifted up that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him so juror has borrowed from the Old Testament imagery of the Moses story to again make his message visual in a few small details nails embedded in the head of the snake and its tail nailed to the tree juror has included the future work of Christ's death on the cross in the print I hope you can begin to see that this print is far more than a picture of Adam and Eve taking a bite of fruit jurors using the print to sum up who he was as an artist and there is far more to the man than just being adept at using lines to create images well jurors certainly wished to gain commissions from the wealthy nobility who would see the print he also wanted to communicate that artists are more than simple craftsmen the common view of his day instead with this print jurors making the argument that artists are theologians who can convey deep truths with a single image artists are philosophers who can enter into scholarly debates and bring a new dimension to the conversations artists keen observational skills make them the natural ally of scientists doctors and naturalist artists are historians and politicians who use their mediums to protest inform and affect change Durer argues that the creative impulse of the artist is a gift from God who is the creator of the universe in truth God is the first artist and we are created in His image and that should make the pursuit of art a noble pursuit I hope you've enjoyed this deep dive into jurors Adam and Eve print if you would like to explore some more of his prints you can find articles about them on my blog at Kelly bag de NASSCOM thanks for watching make sure to LIKE this video by giving us a thumbs up below and make sure to subscribe so you don't miss great commentary on classic works of art Kelly Bogdanoff comm is your source for great content and curriculum as well as devotional materials using the medium of art make sure you visit and subscribe Pablo Picasso said art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life so take a moment to share this video because art is too important not to share

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