Adam and Eve
on laid paper, watermark fragment Foolscap (probably Hinterding ZZ.zz)
a fine impression of the second, final state
printing sharply and richly and with strong contrasts
a thread margin below, trimmed to or just outside the platemark elsewhere
in good condition
Plate 162 x 116 mm.
Sheet 163 x 118 mm.
Unidentified, stamped star or flower (not in Lugt).
Carl Schlösser (1827-1884), Elberfeld (Lugt 636); his sale, F.A.C. Prestel, Frankfurt, 7 June 1880 (and following days), lot 479 ('Épreuve de toute beauté; on n'en peut voir de plus belle; du premier état avec le reflet de lumière sur la cuisse droite d'Ève...') (Mk. 170; to Thibaudeau).
With Alphonse Wyatt Thibaudeau (1840-1893), Paris and London (without mark, see Lugt 2473).
Edward Smith Jr. (2nd half 19th century), London (Lugt 2897); probably acquired from the above; his sale, Sotheby's, London, 20 November 1880, lot 14 ('First state, from the Schloesser collection') (£ 8.8; to Thibaudeau).
With Alphonse Wyatt Thibaudeau (1840-1893), Paris and London (without mark, see Lugt 2473).
With Tomas Harris (1908-1964), London (Lugt 4921).
Richard Dawnay 10th Viscount Downe (1903-1965), Wykeham Abbey, Yorkshire (Lugt 719a).
With P. & D. Colnaghi, London (with their stocknumber C 26429 in pencil verso, crossed out).
Sam Josefowitz (Lugt 6094; on the window mount verso); acquired from the above in 1979; then by descent to the present owners.
Bartsch, Hollstein 28; Hind 159; New Hollstein 168 (this impression cited)
Stogdon p. 260
Sogo Museum of Art, Yokohama, Fukuoka Art Museum, National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, Rembrandt and The Bible, 1986-1987, no. 57.

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Tim Schmelcher
Tim Schmelcher International Specialist

Lot Essay

A very rich and strong impression, this is undoubtedly from an early printing of the second state. The first state, before some minor changes to the hillock against which Adam is leaning, exists in two examples only. The present sheet is remarkable for its intense contrasts, despite a light veil of plate tone.
A comparison of Rembrandt’s version of the Fall of Man with the most famous depiction of the scene, Albrecht Dürer’s engraving of 1504, is an obvious one, and the disparity between the two could not be greater. Dürer sought to depict the first man and woman as models of physical perfection, therein emulating the ideals of the Italian Renaissance, and lending dignity to that pivotal moment of Genesis. Rembrandt on the other hand, never much interested in ideal beauty, portrays the two as a quarrelling Dutch couple. Their bodies are a little flabby, Adam’s hair is unkempt, as if he’s just crawled out of bed, while Eve’s has grown all the way down to her bottom. There is something comical about watching these two very ordinary people decide inadvertently about the fate of mankind. Rembrandt further heightened the amusing aspect of the scene by depicting the serpent as a large, bat-winged dragon and adding a very rotund elephant to the background landscape. The dragon may in fact be a reference to Dürer, for it is quite similar to the dragon tormenting Adam in Christ in Limbo from the Engraved Passion.
By describing the print as comical, it is not implied that Rembrandt didn’t take this etching seriously. In fact, it is rare in his printed oeuvre that preparatory studies are known, yet in this case two surviving drawings (David H. Felix Collection, Philadelphia; and Prentenkabinet, Leiden) suggest that Rembrandt considered thoroughly about how to best capture the story. The sheet in Leiden even depicts both figures twice. It is characteristic of Rembrandt’s humanity that he was less concerned with the Fall of Man as a mythical event of universal consequences, and more with the psychology of the situation as an interaction between two people. Rather than trivialising the momentous act, he aims to understand and visualise Adam's and Eve's motivations from within: ‘Eve, with the experienced calculating look of someone who is aware that the prey is at her command, holds up the apple with both hands. […] Adam stretches forth to take the apple while the other arm is raised […]. This becomes not so much a gesture of horror but one of awareness, and his forefinger is raised as if he were spelling out the consequences to himself, and at the same time warning Eve. He is a man torn between right and wrong and the farouche look and wild hair emphasise the turmoil of his senses versus his conscience.' (White, 1999, p. 41).

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