After Conrat Meit (German, 1470-1485): A pair of boxwood figures of Adam and Eve 'Gotha'

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Lot 320
After Conrat Meit (German, 1470-1485): A pair of boxwood figures of Adam and Eve 'Gotha'

Sold for £ 5,760 (US$ 7,566) inc. premium
After Conrat Meit (German, 1470-1485): A pair of boxwood figures of Adam and Eve 'Gotha'
carved in full round, the figures of Adam and Eve standing contrapposto, Eve passing Adam an apple in her uplifted right hand, both with vaulted foreheads, sharply cut eyes, straight noses with a round tips and small mouths, Eve’s hair parted to the centre and held together in coiled plaits to the the back, the sides with curls falling about her ears, Adam with voluminous curled hair, on naturalistic bases and raised on ebonised outswept square plinths, cm high??

Footnotes

  • The present lot can be compared to Adam and Eve figures by Meit 1510 bought (for 20 Carolinen) in 1817 for collection of Herzog August von Sachsen-Gotha-Altenburg as works of Albrecht Dürer from director of the princely Works of Art cabinet, Wilhelm Ernst Braun (Frauenholz’sche Kunsthandlung in Nuremberg).


    Meit’s Gotha pair of figures is one of the earliest and impressive examples of small figurative Adam and Eve depictions of the Renaissance in the North. Pre-eminent in the accurate observation of the body, Meit’s pair of figures is a specific form of North-European nude sculpture in the Renaissance. Prototype for the nude figuration of his Eve with her fluent shape is probably the Venus of Lucas Cranach d. Ä. (wood carving ‘Venus und Armor’) of 1509. The rear view of the Gotha Eve is directly related to Albrecht Dürer’s nude drawing of a female back view from 1506. Dürer’s etching of Adam and Eve in 1504 gave the first impulse for dealing with nudes at that time and can be named as the prototype for Meit’s Adam. The dating of the pair of figures around 1510 is supported by other similarities with works by Cranach and Dürer that were made before 1510. The shape of the head with the high convex forehead, the execution of the face and the Meit Eve’s Venetian hairstyle all’antica of that time can be found in the female Saints of Cranach’s ‘Fürstenaltar’ of 1509 in the ‘Anhaltischen Gemäldegalerie’ in Dessau. Moreover Adam’s curly hairstyle mirrors the fashion at the Saxon court and of the Wittenberg Humanists, shown in the comparison with Lucas Cranachs painting of the 26-year old Georg Spalatin from 1509. However, Meit’s Gotha figures are not just compositions of single elements from Dürer’s and Cranach’s works. What they show is that on the one hand Meit is geared to the style of Cranach’s early nude depiction, but on the other hand is not just interested in the decorative beauty of that nudes. He followed his keen interest in the exploration of the body and its proportions. Hence he focused on the accurate rendition of the body and its details – for instance the accurately worked out genitals. Above them both figures show a vaulted stomach. In addition to that the joints of the limbs to the torso show the functional aspect of the moving body being worked out in details such as skin folds in the crook of the arm and the tensed or relaxed muscles and sinews.

    Literature: Conrat Meit, Bildhauer Der Renaissance, Hirmer Verlag, Ernst Von Siemens Kunstfonds, Munchen, 2007, pp.68-71.
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