Oil on walnut panel
Our composition, a work of the Florentine School of the late sixteenth century, is a masterful reflection of the interpenetration of styles between Northern and Southern European painting during the Renaissance.
Although the iconographic sources of our painting are located in the Vatican frescoes of Michelangelo (Creation of Eve, Sistine Chapel) or Raphael (Adam and Eve driven from Paradise, Raphael's Lodge), our painter is to be placed in the suite of Francesco d'Ubertino (il Bacchiacca). Like him, he seems to have been inspired by the study of drawings or engravings by Nordic artists such as Lucas van Leyden, Maerten de Vos or Jan van der Straet. He belongs to that generation of Florentine artists, of whom Bacchiacca is a precursor, who paint by combining various motifs with characters in a very present nature.
Imbued with great poetry, our composition is part of the Florentine tradition for narrative painting. It illustrates three episodes from Genesis that follow the 6th day of the Creation of the World: the creation of Eve from Adam's rib, the original sin and Adam and Eve driven out of paradise.
In a lush plain crossed by a winding river, one of the four rivers of the Earthly Paradise, the chronology of the scenes is organized according to a transversal reading. On the left bank of the river, while Adam is plunged into a deep sleep, God shapes Eve. In front of them, a drinking unicorn purifies the water by dipping its single horn. This mythical animal is both a symbol of purity and chastity and its horn is said to have poisonous properties. On the other side of the river, where the sin is committed, stands a panther with a human face straight out of a medieval bestiary. Sometimes identified as the devil, the panther (or leopard) is the symbol of treason. It is therefore no coincidence that it is depicted turning its back on Adam and Eve, who were expelled from paradise for having tasted the forbidden fruit.
In the central scene, where the grace of the protagonists makes us forget the drama that unfolds before our eyes, Adam is sitting on the back of a camel, an animal compared by the Fathers of the Church to Jesus Christ because it kneels and carries heavy loads. Here, he is carrying Man. Eve, standing with one foot on the shell of a turtle, hands the fruit of the tree of knowledge to Adam. The turtle is a representation of the universe and it evokes power with its four short legs well anchored in the ground which are like the columns that carry the temple, a parable of the life that Eve will soon carry.
Nakedness is a mark of Adam and Eve's humanity, and both, sublime, accept this nakedness with serenity because they are divine creatures. But after having sinned, their hands in prayer, they implore the forgiveness of their creator and will not cease to cover their bodies to try to regain their dignity.
On the back of the panel is an old wax stamp of the Italian Ministry of Culture (Conservazione dei monumenti di belle arti). This service ensures the conservation of Italian heritage and verifies the provenance of the art object, if it has been diverted from public collections.
The work is set in majesty in a 17th century Piedmontese frame in gilded carved wood and decorated with fake marble in the grooves.
Oil on walnut panel - Dimensions : 64,5 x 91 cm - 91 x 118 cm with the frame
Provenance : French private collection, Italian private collection (before 1900).
Sold with invoice and certificate of expertise.