Adam and Eve

Adam and Eve

c. 1520

workshop of Peter Vischer

(German, 1487-1528)


Overall: 14.6 x 12 x 12.7 cm (5 3/4 x 4 3/4 x 5 in.)

Norman O. Stone and Ella A. Stone Memorial Fund 1961.29



The figures of Adam and Eve embrace on a bench. Together, the figures straddle an upright cornucopia that is meant to serve as an inkwell. The drapery strewn across the figures' laps-and thus covering their genitals-suggests that the scene takes place after the Fall. One can see a remnant of the Tree of Life to the right of Eve. Numerous bronze inkwells of the period survive, though they usually feature a single figure, usually allegorical, and not such an elaborate composition as seen here. This inkwell was formerly in the collection of the Duke of Arenberg, a noble house of the Hapsburg Netherlands. The Vischers (Hermann I, Peter the elder, Hermann II, Peter the younger, Hans, Jakob, Paulus, and Georg) were the most renowned bronze casters of Renaissance Nuremberg, and had drawn patrons from across Europe. Because of certain ambiguities in its style, in the past the inkwell had been attributed to Georg Vischer. Stylistically, it resembles some of the miniature figures in Peter Vischer the younger's Shrine of St. Sebald (Church of St. Sebald, Nuremberg), portions of which had been cast at approximately the same time. South German bronze foundries in the sixteenth century would often adapt stylistic elements of Venetian bronzes to suit local tastes, and this inkwell is a product of this phenomenon.

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