Adam and Eve vs. Fall of Man


The item that was the most perplexing to me at the Ackland museum was the “Fall of Man” painting. After thinking and thinking about why I couldn’t understand the painting, I concluded that it was because of the perspective I had going into the painting. Right before seeing this painting, we saw a painting that alluded to the Biblical story of Adam and Eve’s disobedience. The painting showed Adam and Eve standing near a tree and Eve reaching to grab a piece of fruit from a serpent wrapped around the tree. This is probably one of the most common depictions of the infamous Biblical event. When we went to view the “Fall of Man” our tour guide introduced the painting to us as “another interpretation of Adam and Eve.” This caused me to view the painting with a lense that I think didn’t allow me to fully understand it initially. This painting depicts a black woman petting a serpent that is wrapped around a tree. Surrounding them is a wide variety of animals and the tree was plentiful with fruit. The most salient things about the painting to me were Eve’s skin color and the fact that Adam was missing. I appreciated the colors and the details but I felt like I missed the central point. After thinking about the painting and it’s title a bit more I concluded that this painting wasn’t depicting Adam and Eve in a literal tangible manner. It was depicting the story of Adam and Eve more broader, more specifically the scene where Eve was alone being deceived by serpent before she ate the fruit. This explains why Adam wasn’t there and why things still look so peaceful. Also, upon deeper examination, it looks as if the serpent is winking. The wink was a foreshadowing tool representing the next scene which would be the scene where Eve actually eats the fruit. This misunderstanding reminded me that the same story can be depicted in so many ways depending on what part of the story is being told. It also reminded me that perspective can have a huge impact on the way you interpret things which can be a good or bad thing.