Adam and Eve, 1638

Rembrandt's insistent realism displeased seventeenth-century critics, who preferred classical nudes and the soft, fleshy bodies of Peter Paul Rubens. One critic snipped that Rembrandt chose as his models "a peat stamper or washergirl from the barn." Brilliantly, he lit his naturalistic Adam and Eve from behind, with reflected light from the distant Eden, where an elephant ambles along, unaware of the scowling pair. The devil is borrowed from an Albrecht Dürer engraving; Rembrandt had acquired a large group of Dürer prints at auction the same year he made this etching.

Adam and Eve
Artist Life
Accession Number
Catalogue Raisonne
Hind 159 ii/ii; B.28; Mz.177 ii/ii; Holl. 28 ii/ii; B-B.38-D ii/ii
Curator Approved

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