Adam and Eve Iconography
The Fall of Man through the Ages
Art historians use the discipline of iconography to identify and describe symbols and themes in the subjects of visual arts. The iconographic inquiry is particularly useful for explaining the religious significance of Christian art. One of the first stories the Christian Bible conveys concerns, Adam and Eve. According to the biblical book of Genesis, Adam and Eve were the first man and woman that God created. Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s directive not to eat the forbidden fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Christians believe Adam and Eve’s disobedience brought sin and death into the world. This essay explores a select cross-section of portrayals of Adam and Eve during various eras of European art history. The goal is to use iconographic analysis to place the Adam and Eve theme within distinct contexts and by so doing better understand its complex functions.
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