Work Eve Offering the Apple
Department of Prints and Drawings: 16th century
Eve tendant la pomme
Prints and Drawings
Used for preparing the figure of Eve in the frescoes for the dome of Parma Cathedral, this figure is one of those closest to the definitive version. The cupola is decorated with the scene of the Assumption: surrounded by angels and biblical figures, a boldly foreshortened Eve offers the apple to the Virgin Mary. The Louvre drawing testifies to a total mastery of perspective and enormous technical skill in the sensual presentation of the body.
The first woman
Eve is seen from below and foreshortened: this daring angle shows her naked to the waist, with a cloth covering suggested lower right. Her sensual beauty is progressively revealed, like a musical crescendo, the upper body and the bosom being described with curved lines whose point of focus is the navel. The intensely expressive face is framed by long, undulating hair, and in her left hand, extended towards the far left of the paper, is the apple of original sin. Her right arm rests on a stand draped with fabric. The artist has emphasized the contrast between the gesture of the woman offering the fruit and the feeling of expectation emanating from the rest of her body.
A human whirlwind
Eve Offering the Apple is a preparatory drawing for the fresco inside the dome of Parma Cathedral, for which the contract was drawn up in 1524. Work on the fresco lasted until the artist's death in 1534, the generally accepted date for this drawing being between 1526 and 1528. The foreshortened view of the figure and the treatment of the body reveal all the skill characteristic of Correggio's maturity: in the fresco the arrangement of the figures hinges on a use of perspective creating an overall impression of a human whirlwind, with Eve emerging from the turbulence as she offers the apple to the Virgin.
The two Eves
The religious link between the two women has its roots in canonical exegesis: as the new Eve, Mary expiates the sin of her predecessor. The Louvre drawing already contains the elements characterizing the guilty woman of the finished composition: the chromatic impact of the red chalk strokes increases the figure's seductiveness, while the use of white highlighting both reinforces the contrast between light and dark areas and heightens the refinement of the overall rosy tint.
BibliographyR. Bacou, in Le XVIe siècle européen, Exhibition catalogue, Paris, Musée du Louvre, 1965, plate 87.
R. Bacou, Dessins du Louvre, Ecole italienne, Flammarion, Paris, 1968, plate 38.
T. Pignatti, Le Dessin dans l'histoire de l'art, Paris, 1982, p.121.
R. Bonnefoit, in Largesse, Exhibition catalogue, Paris, Musée du Louvre, 1994, p.185, plate 1.
Antonio Allegri, known as Correggio (Correggio, Italy, c. 1489-1534)
Eve Offering the Apple
Red chalk with white highlights
H. 0.106 m; W. 0.104 m
Collection of Nicholas Lanière (1588-1666); collection of A.-Ch.-H. His de La Salle; donated to the Louvre, 1878
Due to their fragility, works on paper are not on permanent display in the museum.
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