Every once and a while I’ll come upon an antiquarian painting, print, fresco, sculpture or other art piece that peaks my interest. This is one of them.
This is an illustration by Jean Fouquet from a french translation manuscript of Josephus‘ Jewish Antiquities. It is entitled, “The Creation, God Introducing Adam and Eve,” and dates to 1470-76 C.E. Currently it is maintained at the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, France.
There are several things that are interesting about this illustration:
- God is portrayed in the center, joining the right hands of Adam and Eve in a sacred handclasp, likely the dextrarum iunctio, a symbol of the eternal marriage of the two.
- Angels on both sides of the group seem to clothe Adam and Eve in the sacred garments worn by God.
- The Garden of Eden is symbolized as a walled city/fortress, with the rivers beginning at a fountain and exiting through the walls.
- Since this is also representative of the Creation, we note God and his angels at the top holding the instruments or tools of creation, including God holding a compass and one of the angels a square. (See Isa. 44:13)
- Is God represented here twice, or are there 2 Gods?
- God is depicted as a man, in both cases.
You can see a similar representation in a 16th century sculpture called The Garden of Eden or Love.
Anything else interesting that you see in this illustration? Does anyone know anything else about this particular work, or similar ones?
Update (4/20/09): I found a scan of the entire page from a book entitled “Jehan Foucquet, native of Tours” by Trenchard Cox (page 88). You can see the full page image here. It is interesting to note that in this book the title of the illustration is “The Marriage of Adam and Eve.”
Update (4/20/09): I found another very similar illumination from the same time period. This one is entitled “The Marriage of Adam and Eve” from “Des Proprietes De Chozes” by Jean Corbechon around 1415 C.E. You can see very similar symbolism here.
Update (4/20/09): Here is a detail of an engraving by Jean Duvet cerca 1540-1555 which depicts the same – “The Marriage of Adam and Eve.” You can see the full engraving here.