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Photo © The Courtauld

Adam and Eve, 1526

Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553)

Beyond the threshold

  • Medium:
    Oil on panel
  • Dimensions:
    117.1 × 80.8 cm
  • Collection:
    The Courtauld, London (Samuel Courtauld Trust)
  • Coll. No:

Lucas Cranach, a major painter of the Northern Renaissance, was recognised for his detailed paintings of religious subjects. Here, he depicts Adam and Eve, the first man and woman of many Abrahamic religions, including Christianity, Islam and Judaism. Cranach portrays a moment of great tension that will lead to catastrophic consequences. They are shown standing beneath the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden. Their hands meet as Eve offers Adam an apple which, once bitten, will trigger their permanent expulsion from Paradise. The serpent, entwined in the branches above, watches the couple on the brink of crossing a threshold of no return.