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(American, Ohio, Rocky River, 1912–1931)
Overall: 35 x 26.7 x 8.2 cm (13 3/4 x 10 1/2 x 3 1/4 in.)
Educational Purchase Fund 1928.235.1
In a remarkable departure from tradition, this ceramic sculpture depicts Adam tempting Eve with the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. According to the Bible, it was Eve who offered Adam the apple which led to mankind's downfall, ushering sin and death into the world. Adam's loincloth indicates that he has become ashamed of his nudity, a sign of his fall from grace. This startling role reversal reflects Cowan's belief that men are more prone to moral temptation than women. In addition to its innovative iconography, the sculpture's rich color and elegant, rhythmic forms establish it as Cowan's finest work and a masterpiece of the American Art Deco aesthetic. Born to a family of potters in East Liverpool, Ohio, Cowan directed the Cowan Pottery studios in Lakewood (1912-17) and Rocky River (1919-32), Ohio. Cowan Pottery was among the foremost producers of American Art Deco pottery and ceramic sculpture. Cowan recruited many talented artists to work in his studios, including Thelma Frazier Winter, Edward Winter, Walter Sinz, Waylande Gregory, and Viktor Schreckengost.
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