Arm of Eve

Arm of Eve


Albrecht Dürer

(German, 1471-1528)

Point of brush and gray and black wash, brush and gray and black wash, heightened with white gouache

Support: Blue laid paper

Sheet: 34.4 x 26.7 cm (13 9/16 x 10 1/2 in.)

Gift of Alan Kennedy 1965.470


Did you know?

The blue paper that Dürer used to make this drawing was a specialty of Venetian paper makers in the 16th century, who achieved the color by infusing the paper pulp with dyed fibers.


Arm of Eve is the only surviving preparatory drawing for Dürer’s life-size panels of Adam and Eve in the Museo del Prado, Madrid (1507). It is also the only surviving drawing by the artist made on Venetian blue paper, a support he began to use for his chiaroscuro studies while visiting Venice in the winter of 1506–7. With extraordinary economy of means, using only black and gray ink and a limited amount of wash and gouache for shading and heightening, Dürer suggested the grace and balance of the complete human form in this composition of a disembodied arm and hand. Such a study of a hand in ideal proportions cannot help but suggest the hand of the artist, a self-referential nod to his own abilities.

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