This small-scale object features Adam and Eve after their expulsion from paradise. Both figures are evidently ashamed: their bodies are hunched forward and shrouded, with Eve holding onto Adam’s arm, raised to obscure his face. Neither figure looks upward, building tension between the viewer and the depicted subjects. It is as if the viewer is being immersed in the very moment that God uttered to the pair, “What is this that thou hast done?” (Genesis 3:13).
The scale and intended installation of the object in a collector’s cabinet would have permitted a close and personal viewing experience. The medium also played a notable role in situating the viewer’s encounter with the sculpture. Ivory was considered a precious material and objects carved from it were admired for their fine detail.
Currently on view in the museum’s East Gallery, this work is included in our gallery flip book situating permanent collection works within our year-long theme of Religion, Ritual and Performance.
Expulsion from Paradise (Adam and Eve), ca. 1600
R.T. Miller, Jr. Fund, 1959.114