A Sculpture of Adam by Tullio Lombardo
With works in every known medium, from every part of the world, throughout all points in history, exploring the vast collection of the Museum of Modern Art was an overwhelming experience. The objects in the Department of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts are an important historical collection, reflecting the development of a number of art forms in Western Europe. The department's holdings covered sculpture in many sizes, woodwork and furniture, ceramics and glass, jewelry, and tapestries. The gallery attracted my appreciation of the realistic qualities of the human body often portrayed in sculpture.
In my examination of the works, I came across a particular sculpture that portrayed both beauty and craftsmanship. A 15th century sculpture (1490), made in Venice, Italy by Tullio Lombardo, shows a life-size figure of Adam. Titled Adam, the work is the most prominent in the gallery mostly because of its 6-foot standing. It immediately caught my attention and gave me a very realistic impression. One beige color and made of marble, Adam is depicted simply, yet the statue has intense emotions. His meaningful glance is seen in the upward and tilted head position. Adam has almost lifeless looking eyes and seems to be staring into the distance. With these sagging eyes, parted lips, and lacking posture I feel Adam’s guilt is displayed in this figure.
I recognize this as the religious figure Adam because of my knowledge of the biblical story of Adam and Eve and the event of the first sin. The Fall of Mankind corrupts the pure relationship with God and makes redemption needed. Adam and his wife Eve were allowed to live in paradise without any restrictions imposed on them. The only exception was not to eat from a certain tree. The fruits from this tree would grant immortality and likeness of the angels. Even though forbidden from God, temptation leads them to eat from the tree and perform the first sin of mankind. In the form of a serpent, Satan seduces evil and gets Adam and Eve expelled from paradise. At this point they realize their nakedness and cover themselves with leaves. I feel this is the moment of time depicted in the figure.
The body of Adam, fully nude with the exception of a leaf, is very realistic and...