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Analyze the Following Artworks in Terms of Their Iconography: Adam and Eve, Albrecht Dürer, 1504, Engraving

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This engraving shows the Fall of Man: the moment Eve took the apple from the snake and gave it to Adam. Eating that fruit was explicitly forbidden to the couple, but they could not resist the temptation. Dürer also shows the theory of the four temperaments

Every person has these four humours or personality types. In Paradise they were in perfect balance, but after the Fall the balance was lost.Adam holds a branch of the mountain ash, the Tree of Life. Eve has taken a twig off the fig: the forbidden Tree of Knowledge. The parrot, well known as the chatting bird, probably symbolizes sin.

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Throughout his life, Dürer was in thrall to the idea that the perfect human form corresponded to a system of proportion and measurements and could be generated by using such a system. Near the end of his life, he wrote several books codifying his theories, including the Underweysung der Messung (Manual of measurement), published in 1525, and Vier Bücher von menschlichen Proportion (Four books of human proportion), published in 1528 just after his death. Dürer's fascination with ideal form is manifest in Adam and Eve. The first man and woman are shown in nearly symmetrical idealized poses: each with the weight on one leg, the other leg bent, and each with one arm angled slightly upward from the elbow and somewhat away from the body. The figure of Adam is reminiscent of the Hellenistic Apollo Belvedere, excavated in Italy late in the fifteenth century. The first engravings of the sculpture were not made until well after 1504, but Dürer must have seen a drawing of it

Dürer was a complete master of engraving by 1504: human and snake skin, animal fur, and tree bark and leaves are rendered distinctively. The branch Adam holds is of the mountain ash, the Tree of Life, while the fig, of which Eve has broken off a branch, is from the forbidden Tree of Knowledge. Four of the animals represent the medieval idea of the four temperaments: the cat is choleric, the rabbit sanguine, the ox phlegmatic, and the elk melancholic.

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As can be seen, there are four nails embedded in its head. There is a theory that the appearance of this snake is linked to the snake emblem that is on the coat of arms of Münzer. Technically this is a sublime example of the engraver's art. The richness of texture that has been achieved and the depth of the engraved lines in the plate are testament to the artist's skill. Allied together, Dürer's upbringing in early printing technology and craft, his artistic bent, his thirst for knowledge of the techniques and theories of art and the research he carried out on his travels around Germany, Switzerland and particularly Italy culminated in this tour de force, the engraving of Adam and Eve.

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