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Video transcript

[Music] we're in the core toll galleries and we're looking at how to Lucas Cranach the elder Adam and Eve from 1526 and it's a pretty big product it is I think we're used to seeing perhaps chronics that are smaller and on a more intimate scale but I guess that sort of matches the grandeur and importance of the biblical Adam and Eve story so German paintings at this time and I think especially products are so peculiar just visually the representation of the body is a kind of stylization of nature and of the human body that I think strike many people is sort of wonderfully awkward but also elegant in a kind of a curious way both Adam and Eve look like they're in courtly poses or very carefully posed and elegantly standing there but it also just happens to be in the perfect place for this little grapevine to grow up naturally with it we've covered their genitals okay so a little poetic license let that go now that idea of the courtly is important because chronic was actually very much a part of the Saxon Court and he was painting for the court and kind of the upper classes at the time but also interestingly I think kind of encouraging people to read his images not simply for their religious importance but also looking at the details of things that they might recognize so these animals you know if you were out hunting and you would see deer or sheep or pheasants all these little animals they were almost didactic they're almost illustrations of these animals I mean it becomes a kind of menagerie a kind of excuse to enjoy this complexity of animal forms and tight and well that's certainly also reflecting that all of these animals would have been in the Garden of Eden I also think it's interesting as a little historical side note chronic not having seen say a lion in his own life he was known to use pattern books he would look up pictures that were made for artists of here's what a lion looks like if you ever need to put a lion in your painting so the little lion over on the right side of the painting looks kind of like a dog but that's you know a Saxon artist in Bavaria at the time not having access to real lions and of course many people would have relied on a painting like this to understand what looked like interned and might have been led astray a little bit yeah let's talk about just the central scene for just a moment because it's pretty wonderful you have Eve who's at the point of literally handing Adam the forbidden fruit which we generally think of as an apple and he looks a little reluctant he does like he's scratching his head should I take this should I know which is a little bit out of the ordinary for how we see Adam depicted I think he looks a little bit the innocent here and in turn he looks somewhat sinister she has kind of a sly sideways glint going on which does give her womanly wiles appear I think that's actually amplified by that hair which is pretty extraordinary she's got these curls that radiate out almost like electricity in a variety of different angles and makes her seem a little bit wild and also kind of connects her to the foliage right behind her so it's as though she's connected to the tree and the fruit of knowledge and all of this now the serpent the symbol of evil is paying attention to her that kind of misogyny or that kind of attention to or implication that Eve is the responsible party is is a fairly old tradition and I think that's also emphasized by the fact that her left hand is still holding the branch of the tree while she offers Adam the fruit with her right so the story itself is pretty wonderful they eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge and know their nakedness and when God reveals himself to them they hide and like a parent God just simply asked the question why are you hiding and of course the fact that they had eaten the forbidden the fruit comes to light what I find interesting relates back to something you said earlier which is that this is a more secular rendering that is in some ways less religious and if chronic the artist is actually thinking about the secular thinking about knowledge itself as a good that is displaying these animals displaying the foliage in a very particular way giving as much visual information as he can very much a characteristic of the Renaissance but then this notion of eating of the Tree of Knowledge is sort of interesting in a way that that's folded in that knowledge is an inherent good and he is a product of this original sin which definitely would been in a renaissance context something worth emphasizing because they were very interested in pursuit of knowledge and including that in their paintings and giving a great amount of emphasis to all of the learning that they have done but in this context there's something slightly naughty then about that knowledge right that it is somehow linked to sin yeah and so it's an interesting kind of balance it becomes a good subject I think for that little play of the good and the evil connected with knowledge what a great painting [Music]